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Renewable Energy Saves Fortune 100 Companies $1.1B Annually

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the powered-by-hamsters dept.

Power 116

Lucas123 writes: A new report authored by several environmental groups say data shows more than half of Fortune 100 companies collectively saved more than $1.1B annually by reducing carbon emissions and rolling out renewable energy projects. According to the report, 43% of Fortune 500 companies, or 215 in all, have also set targets in one of three categories: greenhouse gas reduction, energy efficiency and renewable energy. When narrowed to just the Fortune 100, 60% of the companies have set the same clean energy goals. Some of the companies leading the industry in annual clean energy savings include UPS ($200M), Cisco ($151M), PepsiCo ($121M) and United Continental ($104M).

Disappointed Woz Sells His "Worthless" Galaxy Gear Watch

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the get-that-man-a-tricorder dept.

Handhelds 242

curtwoodward (2147628) writes Apple co-founder and legendary nerd Steve Wozniak is a huge gadget enthusiast, often appearing in lines with mere mortals to purchase new Apple products. So you can bet he's tried out most of the smartwatches on the market today. The worst one? By far, the Samsung Galaxy Gear, which The Woz says he sold on eBay after half a day's use. "It was so worthless and did so little that was convenient," Wozniak said at an appearance in Milwaukee. "You had to hold it up to your ear and stuff." So maybe the watch sucked, but just imagine being the one who bought Woz's used Gear---do you think they know?

Improv Project, Vivaldi Tablet Officially Dead

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the sad-news dept.

Handhelds 71

sfcrazy (1542989) writes "It's a sad day for free software as one of the most ambitious free software projects, Improv, is officially dead. Along with the board also dies the promising Vivaldi tablet [video intro]. The developers have sent out emails to the backers of the project that they are pulling plugs on these. The end of the Improv project also means a disappointing end to the KDE Tablet project, as Aaron Seigo was funding both projects out of his own pocket (almost exactly $200,000 spent)."

Samsung Release First SSD With 3D NAND

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the turning-up-the-volume dept.

Data Storage 85

Vigile (99919) writes "As SSD controllers continue to evolve, so does the world of flash memory. With the release of the Samsung 850 Pro SSD announced today, Samsung is the first company to introduce 3D NAND technology to the consumer. By using 30nm process technology that might seem dated in some applications, Samsung has been reliably able to stack lithography and essentially "tunnel holes" in the silicon while coating the inside with the material necessary to hold a charge. The VNAND being used with the Samsung 850 Pro is now 32 layers deep, and though it lowers the total capacity per die, it allows Samsung to lower manufacturer costs with more usable die per wafer. This results in more sustainable and reliable performance as well as a longer life span, allowing Samsung to offer a 10 year warranty on the new drives. PC Perspective has a full review with performance results and usage over time that shows Samsung's innovation is leading the pack."

Boston Trying Out Solar-Powered "Smart Benches" In Parks

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the hot-seat dept.

Power 119

An anonymous reader writes Through a partnership with a MIT Media Lab spinoff, Changing Environments, Boston has announced that it will install solar-powered benches in several of its parks that allow you to charge your cell phone. The bench has a USB outlet, and also collects and shares a wide range of data, including location-based information, as well as air quality and noise-levels. "Your cell phone doesn't just make phone calls, why should our benches just be seats?" said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "We are fortunate to have talented entrepreneurs and makers in Boston thinking creatively about sustainability and the next generation of amenities for our residents."

Ars Takes an Early Look At the Privacy-Centric Blackphone

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the all-voice-calls-should-be-encrypted dept.

Cellphones 67

Ars Technica has spent some time with pre-production (but very nearly final) samples of the Blackphone, from Geeksphone and Silent Circle. They give it generally high marks; the hardware is mostly solid but not cutting edge, but the software it comes with distinguishes it from run-of-the-mill Android phones. Though it's based on Android, the PrivOS system in these phone offers fine grained permissions, and other software included with the phone makes it more secure both if someone has physical access to the phone (by encrypting files, among other things) and if communications between this phone and another are being eavesdropped on. A small taste: At first start up, Blackphone’s configuration wizard walks through getting the phone configured and secured. After picking a language and setting a password or PIN to unlock the phone itself, the wizard presents the option of encrypting the phone’s stored data with another password. If you decline to encrypt the phone’s mini-SD storage during setup, you’ll get the opportunity later (and in the release candidate version of the PrivOS we used, the phone continued to remind me about that opportunity each time I logged into it until I did). PrivOS’ main innovation is its Security Center, an interface that allows the user to explicitly control just what bits of hardware functionality and data each application on the phone has access to. It even provides control over the system-level applications—you can, if you wish for some reason, turn off the Camera app’s access to the camera hardware and turn off the Browser app’s access to networks.

Researchers Claim Wind Turbine Energy Payback In Less Than a Year

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the answer-is-blowin'-in dept.

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mdsolar (1045926) writes "Researchers have carried out an environmental lifecycle assessment of 2-megawatt wind turbines mooted for a large wind farm in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. They conclude that in terms of cumulative energy payback, or the time to produce the amount of energy required of production and installation, a wind turbine with a working life of 20 years will offer a net benefit within five to eight months of being brought online." Watts Up With That? has a more skeptical take on the calculations.

EDSAC Diagrams Rediscovered

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the thought-they-were-wrong-but-were-mistaken dept.

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mikejuk (1801200) writes Due to its importance in the history of computing, the UK's Computer Conservation Society embarked on a 4-year project to build a replica of EDSAC. The main challenge facing the team of volunteers who are working on the rebuild is the lack of documentation. There are almost no original design documents remaining so the rebuild volunteers have to scrutinize photographs to puzzle out which bits go where. However, three years into the project, a set of 19 detailed circuit diagrams have come to light and been handed to the EDSAC team by John Loker, a former engineer in the University of Cambridge Mathematical Laboratory. "I started work as an engineer in the Maths Lab in 1959 just after EDSAC had been decommissioned. In a corridor there was a lot of stuff piled up ready to be thrown away, but amongst it I spotted a roll of circuit diagrams for EDSAC. I'm a collector, so I couldn't resist the urge to rescue them. " In the main, the documents confirm that the team has been correct in most of its re-engineering assumptions, but the drawings have thrown up a few surprises. The most significant discrepancy between the original and the reconstruction that the papers reveal is in the "initial orders" (boot ROM in modern terminology). In the absence of fuller information, the reconstruction team had considered and rejected one possibility which was in fact the one that was used by the original engineers. That will now be rectified in the reconstruction, which is due for completion in late 2015.

Overkill? LG Phone Has 2560x1440 Display, Laser Focusing

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the too-much-overkill-is-never-enough dept.

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MojoKid (1002251) writes LG is probably getting a little tired of scraping for brand recognition versus big names like Samsung, Apple and Google. However, the company is also taking solace in the fact that their smartphone sales figures are heading for an all-time high in 2014, with an estimated 60 million units projected to be sold this year. LG's third iteration of their popular "G" line of flagship smartphones, simply dubbed the LG G3, is the culmination of all of the innovation the company has developed in previous devices to date, including its signature rear button layout, and a cutting-edge 5.5-inch QHD display that drives a resolution of 2560X1440 with a pixel density of 538 PPI. Not satisified with pixel overload, LG decide to equip their new smartphone with 'frickin' laser beams' to assist its 13MP camera in targeting subjects for auto-focus. The G3 performs well in the benchmarks with a Snapdragon 801 on board and no doubt its camera takes some great shots quickly and easily. However, it's questionable how much of that super high res 2560 display you can make use of on a 5.5-inch device.

On the Significance of Google's New Cardboard: An Idea Worth Recycling

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the off-the-shelf dept.

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Last week at Google I/O, the company introduced Cardboard, its cheap-and-cheerful (it's made of cardboard, after all) approach to nearly instant VR viewing. It's no Oculus Rift — lacking the Rift's connection to a powerful backend PC, it can't do the same heavy lifting. In fact, it looks sort of like a prank, and the announcement at I/O that everyone at the conference would be getting "a piece of cardboard" drew a lot of chuckles. Gigaom argues that it's nonetheless extremely valuable, because it makes immersive viewing easy and cheap for anyone with a fairly capable smartphone — a pretty satisfying experience in itself, and a good taste of what even higher-end viewers can bring. "In addition to the Cardboard app," writes an anonymous reader, "Google has pushed out an updated version of Google Maps which includes a VR mode for Street View." And if you weren't blessed with an I/O pass, and aren't sure about your skills cutting one out of a pizza box, note that you can buy a kit for about $25, including the RF tag that will tell a phone to fire up the Cardboard app. (The linked article says an aluminum version is in the works from at least one company; I'd like to see one in corrugated plastic — strong but light — and with connection points for a headstrap.) If you've made something similar (or would like to), what would you improve in the design or feature set? (Look soon for a video introduction to Cardboard with Google VP Clay Bavor, too.)

How Apple Can Take Its Headphones To the Next Level

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the if-only-earbuds-would-stick-in-my-ears dept.

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redletterdave (2493036) writes "Apple is one of the biggest headphone makers in the world thanks to those signature white earbuds that have shipped with every iPod, iPhone, and iPad since 2001. But even two years after earbuds became 'EarPods,' the design could still be improved — and competitors are taking notice. Amazon recently unveiled a new pair of in-ear headphones that are magnetic, tangle-free and $5 cheaper than Apple's $30 EarPods, while smaller startups are promoting their own wireless and customizable 3D-printed earbuds. But Apple has an ace up its sleeve, in the form of patents for a set of headphones with 'one or more integrated physiological sensors' designed to help users keep track of their body stats."

Tom's Hardware: Microsoft Smartband Coming In October With 11 Sensors

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the easier-sell-than-new-headgear dept.

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New submitter TuxHiggs (2691251) writes "Last month, Forbes wrote that Microsoft was preparing a cross-platform smartwatch with the ability to continuously track your heart rate and sync the data to your devices. A trusted source with knowledge of the development has verified some of that information and provided Tom's Hardware with additional details about the device. The source confirmed previous rumors that the device is cross-platform compatible, and added there would be open APIs as well. The source also confirmed that the display is on the inside of the wrist as opposed to the outside. Design-wise, Microsoft has gone with a slim band design that is said to resemble a thinner, flatter version of the Nike Fuelband. While details about the hardware are scant, the source did reveal that there are 11 sensors under the hood and a mix of chips, including some from TI and Atmel. Finally, the release for this device is apparently set for October."

2600 Distributor Withholds Money, Magazine's Future In Limbo

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the wish-I-could-make-this-year's-hope dept.

Businesses 59

First time accepted submitter themusicgod1 (241799) writes According to 2600, their distributor (Previously known as "Source Interlink", now recently renamed to "TEN: The Enthusiast Network") has decided to consolidate its resources and is keeping the money retailers paid for the last two issues of the quarterly magazine. 2600, in the meanwhile, is still busy trying to organize the upcoming HOPE X conference. However, according to the link: "In the worst case scenario, being ripped off at this level would make it almost impossible for us to continue publishing. We would have to make a lot of painful choices and cut back on things for no reason other than some outside company's mismanagement. Our readers have supported both our print and digital publications and we've been doing quite well overall." Note: As it says at the linked explanation, 2600 is not a charity, and they're not seeking donations -- but they would like you to buy the magazine (in print or Kindle form), and to attend the upcoming HOPE X conference. (I wish I could make this year's HOPE but can't; as conferences go, HOPE is a wildly good bargain.)

The Military Is About To Get New Augmented Reality Spy Glasses

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the all-the-better-to-see-you-with dept.

The Military 58

schwit1 writes in with this story about some interesting new eyewear purchased by the Defense Department. Getting secret information to specific people, like the location of the nearest nuclear power plant, in a way that doesn't draw attention from outside is a classic spy problem. Another one is giving agents the ability to match names to faces in the real world, at blackjack tables and fancy soirees and other places spies frequent. The Defense Department is buying some new spy specs to give spooks in the field an intelligence edge over everybody else. The glasses, called simply the X6, are from San Francisco-based Osterhout Design Group. They look like the lovechild of Google Glass and the Oculus Rift, providing more information to the wearer than the small window on Google's much-maligned headset but not obstructing vision like the Oculus Rift. (Admittedly, for spy glasses, they lack a certain subtlety.)

New Chemical Process Could Make Ammonia a Practical Car Fuel

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the plant-engine-hybrid dept.

Transportation 380

overThruster (58843) writes A phys.org article says UK researchers have made a breakthrough that could make ammonia a practical source of hydrogen for fueling cars. From the article: "Many catalysts can effectively crack ammonia to release the hydrogen, but the best ones are very expensive precious metals. This new method is different and involves two simultaneous chemical processes rather than using a catalyst, and can achieve the same result at a fraction of the cost. ... Professor Bill David, who led the STFC research team at the ISIS Neutron Source, said 'Our approach is as effective as the best current catalysts but the active material, sodium amide, costs pennies to produce. We can produce hydrogen from ammonia "on demand" effectively and affordably.'" The full paper. The researchers claim that a two-liter reaction chamber could produce enough hydrogen to power a typical sedan.

Ask Slashdot: Is It Feasible To Revive an Old Linux PC Setup?

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the when-real-hackers-used-fvwm dept.

Hardware 176

Qbertino (265505) writes I've been rummaging around on old backups and cleaning out my stuff and have once again run into my expert-like paranoid backups and keepsakes from back in the days (2001). I've got, among other things, a full set of Debian 3 CDs, an original StarOffice 6.0 CD including a huge manual in mint condition, Corel Draw 9 for Linux, the original box & CDs — yes it ran on a custom wine setup, but it ran well, I did professional design and print work with it.

I've got more of other stuff lying around, including the manuals to run it. Loki Softs Tribes 2, Kohan, Rune, and the original Unreal Tournament for Linux have me itching too. :-)

I was wondering if it would be possible to do an old 2001ish setup of a Linux workstation on some modern super cheap, super small PC (Raspberry Pi? Mini USB PC?), install all the stuff and give it a spin. What problems should I expect? VESA and Soundblaster drivers I'd expect to work, but what's with the IDE HDD drivers? How well does vintage Linux software from 2003 play with todays cheap system-on-board MicroPCs? What's with the USB stuff? Wouldn't the install expect the IO devices hooked on legacy ports? Have you tried running 10-15 year old Linux setups on devices like these and what are your experiences? What do you recommend?

Intel Offering 3-D Printed Robot Kits

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the I-don't-think-he-knows-I've-got-a-right-to-exist dept.

Intel 26

jfruh writes Intel is developing a series of robot kits for hobbyists, ranging from "Jimmy", a $1,500 "social robot," to a more robust $16,000 model. The robots are powered by Intel x86 chips, are programmable, and can have exoskeletons parts produced at home by 3-D printers. From the article: "The two-legged Jimmy will be one in a line of robots that Intel hopes do-it-yourself enthusiasts will embrace, developing more functionality for the robots, which will be able to handle tasks such as turning on lights, picking up newspapers and even having conversations, researchers said at the Intel Future Showcase 2014 in New York City Tuesday. Intel and its robotics partners will sell kits with servo motors, batteries, boards, a frame and other internal parts. Using 3D printers, users can create robot designs and place them on the exoskeleton."

Toyota's Fuel Cell Car To Launch In Japan Next March

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the does-it-fly dept.

Transportation 216

puddingebola writes with news that Toyota will be bringing its first fuel-cell car to market in Japan next March. It's expected to cost about $68,700, and Toyota plans to bring it to the U.S. and European markets later that summer. With two of Japan’s three biggest automakers going all in on fuel cells, the country’s long-term future as an automotive powerhouse could now hinge largely on the success of what they hope will be an important technology in the next few decades. ... Japan’s governing party is pushing for ample subsidies and tax breaks for consumers to bring the cost of a fuel-cell car down to about $20,000 by 2025. The government is also aiming to create 100 hydrogen fuel stations by the end of March 2016 in urban areas where the vehicles will be sold initially. ... Hydrogen vehicles can run five times longer than battery-operated electric cars, and their tanks can be filled in just a few minutes, compared with recharging times from 30 minutes up to several hours for electric cars.

Half of Germany's Power Supplied By Solar, Briefly

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the now-imagine-if-solar-and-nuclear-worked-together dept.

Power 461

assertation (1255714) writes with this interesting tidbit from Reuters about the state of solar power in Germany: German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour — equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity — through the midday hours on Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank said. The German government decided to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, closing eight plants immediately and shutting down the remaining nine by 2022.

Programming On a Piano Keyboard

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the well-tempered-claiverlang dept.

Input Devices 57

An anonymous reader writes: Here's a fun project: engineer Yuriy Guts built a Visual Studio extension that lets people program using MIDI instruments. You can write code letter by letter on a piano keyboard. Granted, it's not terribly efficient, but it's at least artistic — you can compose music that is also a valid computer program. Somewhat more usefully, it also allows you to turn a simple MIDI input device, like a trigger pad into a set of buttons that will run tests, push/pull code, or other tasks suitable for automation. The extension is open source and open to contributions.

Venture-Backed Bitcoin Miner Startup Can't Deliver On Time, Gets Sued

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the but-you-promised-me-free-money dept.

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mpicpp (3454017) points out this story illustrating the problem of betting on the differential between the price of deliverable bitcoin-mining hardware and the price of bitcoin itself: Yet another Bitcoin miner manufacturer, CoinTerra, now faces legal action for not fulfilling an order when it originally promised to. CoinTerra is the third Bitcoin-related startup to face litigation for breach of contract and/or fraud in recent months. The CoinTerra lawsuit was filed in late April 2014 by an Oakland, California-based man seeking to be the lead plaintiff in a proposed class-action lawsuit. Lautaro Cline, the suit alleges, purchased a TerraMiner IV in October 2013 for delivery by January 2014. The company promised, he claims, that this miner would operate at two terahashes per second and would consume 1,200 watts of power. It did neither. However, Cline's suit also claims that CoinTerra did not deliver the miner until February 2014, and it "operated well below the speed advertised and consumed significantly more power than CoinTerra represented, causing Plaintiff to suffer significant lost profits and opportunities."

How Vacuum Tubes, New Technology Might Save Moore's Law

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the tube-computers-sound-better-too dept.

Hardware 183

MojoKid (1002251) writes The transistor is one of the most profound innovations in all of human existence. First discovered in 1947, it has scaled like no advance in human history; we can pack billions of transistors into complicated processors smaller than your thumbnail. After decades of innovation, however, the transistor has faltered. Clock speeds stalled in 2005 and the 20nm process node is set to be more expensive than the 28nm node was for the first time ever. Now, researchers at NASA believe they may have discovered a way to kickstart transistors again — by using technology from the earliest days of computing: The vacuum tube. It turns out that when you shrink a Vacuum transistor to absolutely tiny dimensions, you can recover some of the benefits of a vacuum tube and dodge the negatives that characterized their usage. According to a report, vacuum transistors can draw electrons across the gate without needing a physical connection between them. Make the vacuum area small enough, and reduce the voltage sufficiently, and the field emission effect allows the transistor to fire electrons across the gap without containing enough energy to energize the helium inside the nominal "vacuum" transistor. According to researchers, they've managed to build a successful transistor operating at 460GHz — well into the so-called Terahertz Gap, which sits between microwaves and infrared energy.

World's First Large-Scale Waste-to-Biofuels Facility Opens In Canada

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the powered-by-beer-cans-and-pizza-boxes dept.

Canada 96

Zothecula (1870348) writes Thanks to its extensive composting and recycling facilities, the city of Edmonton, Canada is already diverting approximately 60 percent of its municipal waste from the landfill. That figure is expected to rise to 90 percent, however, once the city's new Waste-to-Biofuels and Chemicals Facility starts converting garbage (that can't be composted or recycled) into methanol and ethanol. It's the world's first such plant to operate on an industrial scale, and Gizmag recently got a guided tour of the place.

Microsoft Wants You To Trade Your MacBook Air In For a Surface Pro 3

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the try-ours-instead dept.

Microsoft 365

mpicpp writes with news about a new Microsoft trade-in program to encourage sales of the new Surface Pro 3. Microsoft is offering a limited time Surface Pro 3 promotion via which users can get up to $650 in store credit for trading in certain Apple MacBook Air models. The new promotion, running June 20 to July 31, 2014 -- "or while supplies last" -- requires users to bring MacBook Airs into select Microsoft retail stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada. (The trade-in isn't valid online.)...To get the maximum ($650) value, users have to apply the store credit toward the purchase of a Surface Pro 3, the most recent model of the company's Intel-based Surface tablets.

Microsoft's Cloud Storage Service OneDrive Now Offers 15GB For Free

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the bigger-is-better dept.

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DroidJason1 writes Microsoft revealed today that they will be offering 15GB of free OneDrive storage, up from 7GB. Office 365 users will now get 1TB of storage, up from 20GB. This announcement comes after Amazon revealed unlimited photo storage for those who buy the new Fire phone. Dropbox, a competitor to OneDrive, currently has 2GB for free but offers more space if you refer people to the service. Google Drive offers 15GB of free storage, while Amazon Cloud Drive offers 5GB.

Researchers Unveil Experimental 36-Core Chip

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the we-need-another-core dept.

Hardware 143

rtoz writes The more cores — or processing units — a computer chip has, the bigger the problem of communication between cores becomes. For years, Li-Shiuan Peh, the Singapore Research Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, has argued that the massively multicore chips of the future will need to resemble little Internets, where each core has an associated router, and data travels between cores in packets of fixed size. This week, at the International Symposium on Computer Architecture, Peh's group unveiled a 36-core chip that features just such a "network-on-chip." In addition to implementing many of the group's earlier ideas, it also solves one of the problems that has bedeviled previous attempts to design networks-on-chip: maintaining cache coherence, or ensuring that cores' locally stored copies of globally accessible data remain up to date.

How Disney Built and Programmed an Animatronic President

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the clockwork-people dept.

Robotics 97

An anonymous reader writes with this interesting look at how Disney created realistic animatronic figures in a time before programming languages and systems on a chip. Animatronics have powered some of sci-fi and fantasy cinema's most imposing creatures and characters: The alien queen in Aliens, the Terminator in The Terminator, and Jaws of Jaws (the key to getting top billing in Hollywood: be a robot). Even beloved little E.T.—of E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial—was a pile of aluminum, steel, and foam rubber capable of 150 robotic actions, including wrinkling its nose. But although animatronics is a treasured component of some of culture's farthest-reaching movies, it originated in much more mundane circumstances. According to the Disney archives, it began with a bird.

Among the things Walt Disney was renowned for was bringing animatronics (or what he termed at the time Audio-Animatronics) to big stages at his company and elsewhere. But Disney didn't discover or invent animatronics for entertainment use; rather, he found it in a store. In a video on Disney's site, Disney archivist Dave Smith tells a story of how one day in the early 1950s, while out shopping in New Orleans antique shop, Disney took note of a tiny cage with a tinier mechanical bird, bobbing its tail and wings while tweeting tunelessly. He bought the trinket and brought it back to his studio, where his technicians took the bird apart to see how it worked.

Mozilla Is Working On a Firefox OS-powered Streaming Stick

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the casting-video-is-finally-arriving dept.

Media 89

SmartAboutThings writes: Mozilla took the world by surprise when it announced that it was developing a Firefox operating system that would be used for mobile phones, particularly in developing markets. Such devices have already arrived, but they aren't the only targets for the new operating. According to a report from GigaOM, Mozilla is currently working on a secretive project to develop a Chromecast-like media streaming stick powered by Firefox-OS. Mozilla's Christian Heilmann shared a picture of a prototype.

Russia Wants To Replace US Computer Chips With Local Processors

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the domestic-production dept.

AMD 340

An anonymous reader writes with this news from Tass: Russia's Industry and Trade Ministry plans to replace U.S. microchips (Intel and AMD), used in government's computers, with domestically-produced micro Baikal processors in a project worth dozens of millions of dollars, business daily Kommersant reported Thursday. The article is fairly thin, but does add a bit more detail: "The Baikal micro processor will be designed by a unit of T-Platforms, a producer of supercomputers, next year, with support from state defense conglomerate Rostec and co-financing by state-run technological giant Rosnano. The first products will be Baikal M and M/S chips, designed on the basis of 64-bit nucleus Cortex A-57 made by UK company ARM, with frequency of 2 gigahertz for personal computers and micro servers."

The EPA Carbon Plan: Coal Loses, But Who Wins?

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the probably-the-mets dept.

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Lasrick writes: Mark Cooper with one of the best explanations of some of the most pressing details on the new EPA rule change: 'The claims and counterclaims about EPA's proposed carbon pollution standards have filled the air: It will boost nuclear. It will expand renewables. It promotes energy efficiency. It will kill coal. It changes everything. It accomplishes almost nothing.' Cooper notes that although it's clear that coal is the big loser in the rule change, the rule itself doesn't really pick winners in terms of offering sweet deals for any particular technology; however, it seems that nuclear is also a loser in this formulation, because 'Assuming that states generally adhere to the prime directive of public utility resource acquisition—choosing the lowest-cost approach—the proposed rule will not alter the dismal prospects of nuclear power...' Nuclear power does seem to be struggling with economic burdens and a reluctance from taxpayers to pay continuing subsides in areas such as storage and cleanup. It seems that nuclear is another loser in the new EPA rule change.

Modular Science is Building Hardware and Software for Lab Automation (Video)

Roblimo posted about 2 months ago | from the biology-research-on-an-organic-shoestring dept.

Biotech 6

Modular Science is something Tim Lord spotted at last month's O'Reilly Solid Conference in San Francisco. Its founder, Peter Sand, has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT. He's scheduled to speak at this year's OSCON, and his speaker blurb for that conference says, "He is the founder of ManyLabs, a nonprofit focused on teaching math and science using sensors and simulations. Peter also founded Modular Science, a company working on hardware and software tools for science labs. He has given talks at Science Hack Day, Launch Edu, and multiple academic conferences, including SIGGRAPH." And now he's also been interviewed on Slashdot. Note that there are plenty of lab automation systems out there. Peter is working on one that is not only "an order of magnitude cheaper" than similar devices, but is also easy to modify and expand. It's the sort of system that would fit well not just in a college-level lab, but in a high school lab or a local makerspace. (Alternate Video Link)

Continuous System For Converting Waste Plastics Into Crude Oil

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the thar-be-oil-in-them-thar-'fills dept.

Power 139

rtoz writes: A MIT spinout company aims to end the landfilling of plastic with a cost-effective system that breaks down nonrecycled plastics into oil, while reusing some of the gas it produces to operate. To convert the plastics into oil, this new system first shreds them. The shreds are then entered into a reactor — which runs at about 400 degrees Celsius — where a catalyst helps degrade the plastics' long carbon chains. This produces a vapor that runs through a condenser, where it's made into oil. Much of the system's innovation is in its continuous operation (video). This company aims to produce more refined fuel that recyclers can immediately pump back into their recycling trucks, without the need for oil refineries. Currently, 2 trillion tons of plastic waste is sitting in U.S. landfills, so there is a huge demand for this technology.

Will 7nm and 5nm CPU Process Tech Really Happen?

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the less-is-more dept.

Hardware 142

An anonymous reader writes "This article provides a technical look at the challenges in scaling chip production ever downward in the semiconductor industry. Chips based on a 22nm process are running in consumer devices around the world, and 14nm development is well underway. But as we approach 10nm, 7nm, and 5nm, the low-hanging fruit disappears, and several fundamental components need huge technological advancement to be built. Quoting: "In the near term, the leading-edge chip roadmap looks clear. Chips based on today's finFETs and planar FDSOI technologies will scale to 10nm. Then, the gate starts losing control over the channel at 7nm, prompting the need for a new transistor architecture. ... The industry faces some manufacturing challenges beyond 10nm. The biggest hurdle is lithography. To reduce patterning costs, Imec's CMOS partners hope to insert extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography by 7nm. But EUV has missed several market windows and remains delayed, due to issues with the power source. ... By 7nm, the industry may require both EUV and multiple patterning. 'At 7nm, we need layers down to a pitch of about 21nm,' said Adam Brand, senior director of the Transistor Technology Group at Applied Materials. 'That's already below the pitch of EUV by itself. To do a layer like the fin at 21nm, it's going to take EUV plus double patterning to round out of the gate. So clearly, the future of the industry is a combination of these technologies.'"

Harley-Davidson Unveils Their First Electric Motorcycle

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the easy-electric-rider dept.

Transportation 345

Major Blud writes Harley-Davidson has unveiled their first electric motorcycle called "Project LiveWire." The bike is currently not for sale and detailed specifications are scarce. Harley plans on taking it on a demonstration tour of the U.S. for the next year to gather customer feedback. "The new LiveWire won’t make the distinctive 'potato-potato-potato' chug that Harley once tried to patent. Its engine is silent, and the turbine-like hum comes from the meshing of gears. But electric motors do provide better handling and rapid acceleration — with the electric Harley able to go from 0 to 60 mph in four seconds. LiveWire’s design places the engine at the bottom of the bike."

Intel To Offer Custom Xeons With Embedded FPGAs For the Data Center

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the bitcoin-obviously dept.

Intel 80

MojoKid (1002251) writes For years, we've heard rumors that Intel was building custom chips for Google or Facebook, but these deals have always been assumed to work with standard hardware. Intel might offer a different product SKU with non-standard core counts, or a specific TDP target, or a particular amount of cache — but at the end of the day, these were standard Xeon processors. Today, it looks like that's changing for the first time — Intel is going to start embedding custom FPGAs into its own CPU silicon. The new FPGA-equipped Xeons will occupy precisely the same socket and platform as the standard, non-FPGA Xeons. Nothing will change on the customer front (BIOS updates may be required), but the chips should be drop-in compatible. The company has not stated who provided its integrated FPGA design, but Altera is a safe bet. The two companies have worked together on multiple designs and Altera (which builds FPGAs) is using Intel for its manufacturing. This move should allow Intel to market highly specialized performance hardware to customers willing to pay for it. By using FPGAs to accelerate certain specific types of workloads, Intel Xeon customers can reap higher performance for critical functions without translating the majority of their code to OpenCL or bothering to update it for GPGPU.

1958 Integrated Circuit Prototypes From Jack Kilby's TI Lab Up For Sale

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the piece-of-history dept.

The Almighty Buck 76

First time accepted submitter Dharma's Dad writes Christie's New York is auctioning off a 1958 prototype microchip, used by Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments in his Nobel Prize-winning invention of putting an integrated circuit onto a single chip. Gifted to one of the lab employees by Kilby, the family has decided to sell it. Estimated at $1,000,000 - $2,000,000, this prototype integrated circuit was built between July 18 and September 12, 1958, of a doubly diffused germanium wafer with flying gold wire and four leads.

Amazon Announces 'Fire Phone'

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the not-actually-made-from-fire dept.

Cellphones 192

Amazon has unveiled the Fire Phone. It runs a modified version of Android, and it will launch exclusively for AT&T's network. The screen is a 4.7" IPS LCD (they tested from 4.3" to 5.5", and decided 4.7" worked best for single-hand use), with an emphasis on brightness. It runs on a quad-core 2.2GHz processor with 2GB of RAM, and an Adreno 330 GPU. It has a rear-facing, 13-megapixel camera using an f/2.0 five-element lens with image stabilization. There's a dedicated physical button on the side of the phone that will turn it on and put it into camera mode when pressed. The phone comes with dual stereo speakers that produce virtual surround sound. Amazon wants the phone to be distinctive for its ability to provide video content, both from a hardware and software perspective.

The Fire Phone runs Mayday, Amazon's live tech support service for devices. They also demonstrated Firefly, software that recognizes physical objects using the phone's camera, as well as TV shows and songs it hears. It runs quickly, often identifying things in less than a second (and it pulls up an Amazon product listing, of course). It can even recognize art. Firefly has its own dedicated physical button on the phone, and Amazon is providing a Firefly SDK to third parties who want to develop with it. Another major feature of the Fire Phone is what Amazon calls "dynamic perspective." Using multiple front-facing cameras, the phone tracks the position of a user's head, and uses that to slightly adjust what's displayed on the screen so content is easier to see from the new angle. It allows for gesture control of the phone — for example, you can tilt the phone to scroll a web page or move your head slightly look around a 2-D stadium image when browsing for available seats. Putting your thumb on the screen acts like a mute button for the head tracking, so it isn't confused when you look up from the screen or turn your head to talk to somebody. It's an impressive piece of software, and they've made an SDK available for it.

Elon Musk's Solar City Is Ramping Up Solar Panel Production

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the go-big-or-go-home dept.

Power 262

MarkWhittington writes: Elon Musk is well known as a private space flight entrepreneur, thanks to his space launch company SpaceX. He is also a purveyor of high end electric cars manufactured by his other company, Tesla Motors. But many people do not know that Musk has a third business, Solar City, which is a manufacturer of solar panels. On Tuesday that company announced a major play to increase the output of solar panels suitable for home solar units. Solar City has acquired a company called Silevo, which is said to have a line of solar panels that have demonstrated high electricity output and low cost. Silevo claims that its panels have achieved a 22 percent efficiency and are well on their way to achieving 24 percent efficiency. It suggests that 10 cents per watt is saved for every point of efficiency gained. Solar City, using the technology it has acquired from Silevo, intends to build a manufacturing plant in upstate New York with a one gigawatt per year capacity. This will only be the beginning as it intends to build future manufacturing plants with orders of magnitude capacity. The goal appears to be for the company to become the biggest manufacturer of solar panels in the world.

Unisys Phasing Out Decades-Old Mainframe Processor For x86

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the get-off-my-lawn dept.

Hardware 113

angry tapir writes: Unisys is phasing out its decades-old mainframe processor. The chip is used in some of Unisys' ClearPath flagship mainframes, but the company is moving to Intel's x86 chips in Libra and Dorado servers in the ClearPath line. The aging CMOS chip will be "sunsetted" in Libra servers by the end of August and in the Dorado line by the end of 2015. Dorado 880E and 890E mainframes will use the CMOS chip until the servers are phased out, which is set to happen by the end of 2015.

4K Monitors: Not Now, But Soon

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the wait-for-16K dept.

Displays 186

An anonymous reader writes 4K monitor prices have fallen into the range where mainstream consumers are starting to consider them for work and for play. There are enough models that we can compare and contrast, and figure out which are the best of the ones available. But this report at The Wirecutter makes the case that absent a pressing need for 8.29 million pixels, you should just wait before buying one. They say, "The current version of the HDMI specification (1.4a) can only output a 4096×2160 resolution at a refresh rate of 24 Hz or 3840×2160 at 30 Hz—the latter, half that of what we're used to on TVs and monitors. Connect up a 4K monitor at 30 Hz via HDMI and you'll see choppier animations and transitions in your OS. You might also encounter some visible motion stuttering during normal use, and you'll be locked to a maximum of 30 frames per second for your games—it's playable, but not that smooth. ... Most people don't own a system that's good enough for gaming on a 4K display—at least, not at highest-quality settings. You'll be better off if you just plan to surf the Web in 4K: Nvidia cards starting in the 600 series and AMD Radeon HD 6000 and 7000-series GPUs can handle 4K, as can systems built with integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics or AMD Trinity APUs. ... There's a light on the horizon. OS support will strengthen, connection types will be able to handle 4K displays sans digital tricks, and prices will drop as more 4K displays hit the market. By then, there will even be more digital content to play on a 4K display (if gaming or multitasking isn't your thing), and 4K monitors will even start to pull in fancier display technology like Nvidia's G-Sync for even smoother digital shootouts."

Privacy Worries For 'Smart' Smoke Alarms

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the remember-when-we-just-had-to-worry-about-our-devices-catching-fire dept.

Privacy 90

Advocatus Diaboli sends this excerpt from an article about the data collection capabilities of the Nest Protect 'smart' smoke alarms, and how they could become a privacy concern: Consider that each Protect is packed full of sensors, some of which are capable of much more than they're doing right now: From heat and light sensors to motion sensors and ultrasonic wave sensors. This simple little device could scrape an incredible amount of data about your life if Nest asked it to: From when you get home, to when you go to bed, to your daily routine, to when you cook dinner. Now imagine how a device like that would interlock with another that you keep on your wrist, like the forthcoming Android Wear. Together, they would create a seamless mesh of connectivity where every detail of what you do and where you go is recorded into a living, breathing algorithm based on your life.

Neither Nest nor Google has stated any intention to turn Nest's hardware into more than it is right now. Protect is an alarm, the Thermostat is a thermostat. But as Google ramps up its vision to connect every aspect of our world, from Android Wear to its acquisition of a company that specializes in high-res, near-instantaneous satellite imagery of Earth, it's easier than ever to see why it would cough up billions for a company that has installed hundreds of thousands of Wi-Fi connected devices in the homes of Google users."

Kingston and PNY Caught Bait-and-Switching Cheaper Components After Good Reviews

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the genuine-panaphonics dept.

Data Storage 289

An anonymous reader writes Over the past few months, we've seen a disturbing trend from first Kingston, and now PNY. Manufacturers are launching SSDs with one hardware specification, and then quietly changing the hardware configuration after reviews have gone out. The impacts have been somewhat different, but in both cases, unhappy customers are loudly complaining that they've been cheated, tricked into paying for a drive they otherwise wouldn't have purchased.

Cable Boxes Are the 2nd Biggest Energy Users In Many Homes

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the time-to-unplug-the-stereo dept.

Power 394

SpzToid (869795) writes 224 million U.S. cable TV set-top boxes combined consume as much electricity as produced by four giant nuclear reactors, running around the clock. They have become the biggest single energy user in many homes, apart from air conditioning. Cheryl Williamsen, a Los Alamitos architect, has three of the boxes leased from her cable provider in her home, but she had no idea how much power they consumed until recently, when she saw a rating on the back for as much as 500 watts — about the same as a washing machine. A typical set-top cable box with a digital recorder can consume as much as 35 watts of power, costing about $8 a month for a typical Southern California consumer. And the devices use nearly as much power turned off as they do when they are turned on. The article outlines a voluntary industry agreement that should make a dent in this power consumption (it "calls for a power reduction in the range of 10% to 45% by 2017"), but makes the point that much larger gains are possible: "Energy experts say the boxes could be just as efficient as smartphones, laptop computers or other electronic devices that use a fraction of the power thanks to microprocessors and other technology that conserves electricity. Ideally, they say, these boxes could be put into a deep sleep mode when turned off, cutting consumption to a few watts. At that rate, a box could cost less than $1 a month for power, depending on how much it is used."

Endurance Experiment Writes One Petabyte To Six Consumer SSDs

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the ditch-your-hard-drive dept.

Data Storage 164

crookedvulture (1866146) writes "Last year, we kicked off an SSD endurance experiment to see how much data could be written to six consumer drives. One petabyte later, half of them are still going. Their performance hasn't really suffered, either. The casualties slowed down a little toward the very end, and they died in different ways. The Intel 335 Series and Kingston HyperX 3K provided plenty of warning of their imminent demise, though both still ended up completely unresponsive at the very end. The Samsung 840 Series, which uses more fragile TLC NAND, perished unexpectedly. It also suffered a rash of cell failures and multiple bouts of uncorrectable errors during its life. While the sample size is far too small to draw any definitive conclusions, all six SSDs exceeded their rated lifespans by hundreds of terabytes. The fact that all of them wrote over 700TB is a testament to the endurance of modern SSDs."

BMW, Mazda Keen To Meet With Tesla About Charging Technology

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the let's-talk-about-supercharger-deserts dept.

Transportation 137

PC Magazine reports that following Elon Musk's announcement that Tesla would be freeing for other electric car makers to use the various patents that the company has amassed, at least two companies — Mazda and BMW — are said to be interested in meeting with Tesla, for a very good reason: According to undisclosed sources speaking to the Financial Times, both Nissan and BMW would be interested in working with Tesla to craft up some universal vehicle charging standards. To quote unnamed official: "It is obviously clear that everyone would benefit if there was a far more simple way for everyone to charge their cars."

Amazon's 3D Smartphone As a (Useful) Gimmick

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the will-it-play-holochess? dept.

Businesses 68

Steve Patterson (2850575) writes It's rumored that Amazon will launch its own 3D smartphone on June 18. While it may be compelling, a sexy 3D feature won't catapult Amazon into the lead of the cut-throat smartphone category. If this were true, the EVO 3D, introduced two years ago by HTC and the W960, introduced by Samsung four years ago, would have been top sellers rather than niche products. However, a smartphone that renders 3D images does present an internet retailing opportunity for Amazon. It would be useful to Amazon in selling tangible consumer merchandise, just like Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet was designed to improve Amazon's merchandising of ebooks and video streaming products. What else would you like to use a 3D phone for?

Civilians Try to Lure an Abandoned NASA Spacecraft Back to Earth

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the tractor-beams-are-the-missing-link dept.

Space 53

A New York Times piece (as carried by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) outlines a fascinating project operating in unlikely circumstances for a quixotic goal. They want to control, and return to earth, the International Sun-Earth Explorer-3, launched in 1978 but which "appears to be in good working order." Engineer Dennis Wingo, along with like minded folks (of whom he says "We call ourselves techno-archaeologists") has established a business called Skycorp that "has its offices in the McDonald's that used to serve the Navy's Moffett air station, 15 minutes northwest of San Jose, Calif. After the base closed, NASA converted it to a research campus for small technology companies, academia and nonprofits. ... The race to revive the craft, ISEE-3, began in earnest in April. At the end of May, using the Arecibo Observatory radio telescope in Puerto Rico, the team succeeded in talking to the spacecraft, a moment Mr. Wingo described as "way cool." This made Skycorp the first private organization to command a spacecraft outside Earth orbit, he said. The most disheartening part: "No one has the full operating manual anymore, and the fragments are sometimes contradictory." The most exciting? "Despite the obstacles, progress has been steady, and Mr. Wingo said the team should be ready to fire the engines within weeks."

SteamBoy Machine Team Promises a Portable Console for Valve's Steam Games

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the render-judgement dept.

E3 75

According to an article at The Escapist, a group of hardware developers is working on a portable version of the long-rumored SteamBox console, dubbed the SteamBoy. (Video tease.) This portable version wouldn't be as powerful as some other Steam-centric rigs, but a representative of this group says "it will be possible to play the majority of current games in Steam." While the exact hardware itself is still under wraps, the SteamBoy design should feature a Quad-Core CPU, 4GB RAM, a 32GB built-in memory card, and a 5" 16:9 touchscreen. ... The pictured SteamBoy looks like a combination of the Steam Controller and the PlayStation Vita, with two touchpads, 8 action buttons, 4 triggers, and two additional buttons to the rear. While that should certainly be as functional as a Steam Machine, we still aren't aware what the system specs will be.

Despite Project's Demise, Amazon Web Services Continues To Use TrueCrypt

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the turning-a-ship-takes-a-while dept.

Data Storage 75

An anonymous reader writes with an article at InfoWorld that points out that TrueCrypt may have melted down as a project, but hasn't disappeared altogether: Importing and exporting data from Amazon Simple Storage Service still requires TrueCrypt, two weeks after the encryption software was discontinued ... Amazon.com did not immediately respond to an inquiry seeking information on whether it plans to support other data encryption technologies for the AWS import/export feature aside from TrueCrypt in the future. Infrastructure can be complex to upgrade; how long is reasonable?

One Developer's Experience With Real Life Bitrot Under HFS+

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the so-really-it's-both-plus-and-minus dept.

Bug 396

New submitter jackjeff (955699) writes with an excerpt from developer Aymeric Barthe about data loss suffered under Apple's venerable HFS+ filesystem. HFS+ lost a total of 28 files over the course of 6 years. Most of the corrupted files are completely unreadable. The JPEGs typically decode partially, up to the point of failure. The raw .CR2 files usually turn out to be totally unreadable: either completely black or having a large color overlay on significant portions of the photo. Most of these shots are not so important, but a handful of them are. One of the CR2 files in particular, is a very good picture of my son when he was a baby. I printed and framed that photo, so I am glad that I did not lose the original. (Barthe acknowledges that data loss and corruption certainly aren't limited to HFS+; "bitrot is actually a problem shared by most popular filesystems. Including NTFS and ext4." I wish I'd lost only 28 files over the years.)

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