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  • Raspberry Pi's Eben Upton: How We're Turning Everyone Into DIY Hackers

    redletterdave writes "Eben Upton is the CEO of the Raspberry Pi Foundation's trading company, where he oversees production and sales of the Raspberry Pi. In a lengthy interview with ReadWrite, Upton shares how he invented Raspberry Pi, and what's coming next for the $35 microcomputer. Quoting: 'There's a big difference between [just] making a platform like Raspberry Pi available and offering support for it. I think if you just make it available, you'll find one percent of eight-year-olds will be the one percent who love that sort of thing and will get into it, regardless of how much or how little support you give them. ... [S]ince we can afford to pay for the development of educational material, we can afford to advocate for good training for teachers throughout this. There's an opportunity to get more than one percent. There's an opportunity to reach the bright kids who don't quite have the natural inclination to personally tackle complicated technical tasks. If you give them good teaching and compelling material that's relevant and interesting to them, you can reach ten percent, twenty percent, fifty percent, many more. We look back to the 1980s as this golden era [of learning to program], and in practice, only a very few percent of people were learning to program to any great degree. ... I think the real opportunity for us now, because we can intervene on the material and teacher training levels, we can potentially blow past where we were in the 1980s.'"

    90 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Data Storage Pioneer Wins Millennium Technology Prize

    jones_supa (887896) writes "The British scientist Stuart Parkin, whose work made it possible for hard disks to radically expand in size, has been awarded the Millennium Technology Prize (Millennium-teknologiapalkinto). Professor Parkin's discoveries rely on magneto-resistive thin-film structures and the development of the giant magnetoresistance (GMR) spin-valve read head. These advances allow more information to be stored on each disk platter. Technology Academy Finland — the foundation behind the award — justifies the prize by saying that Parkin's innovations allow us to store large volumes of data in cloud services." He is currently working on Racetrack memory, which would obsolete flash and hard disks (and probably even RAM).

    40 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Princeton Students Develop Open Source Voice Control Platform For Any Device

    rjmarvin (3001897) writes "Two Princeton computer science students have created an open source platform for developing voice-controlled applications that are always on. Created by Shubhro Saha and Charlie Marsh, Jasper runs on the Raspberry Pi under Raspbian, using a collection of open source libraries to make up a development platform for building voice-controlled applications. Marsh and Saha demonstrate Jasper's capability to perform Internet searches, update social media, and control music players such as Spotify. You need a few easily obtainable bits of hardware (a USB microphone, wifi dongle or ethernet, and speakers). The whole thing is powered by CMU Sphinx (which /. covered the open sourcing of back in 2000). Jasper provides Python modules (under the MIT license) for recognizing phrases and taking action, or speaking when events occur. There doesn't seem to be anything tying it to the Raspberry Pi either, so you could likely run it on an HTPC for always-on voice control of your media center.

    34 comments | about two weeks ago

  • A 2560x1440 VR Headset That's Mobile

    New submitter oldmildog writes: "GameFace Labs may very well be the furthest along in the quest to create a mobile VR headset. It's based on Android, and their latest prototype is the first VR headset (mobile or tethered) to include a 2560x1440 display, with 78% more pixels than 1080p based VR headsets like the Oculus Rift DK2. CEO Ed Mason said, 'The upgrade to 1280 x 1440 per eye is monumental. Individual pixels are hard to detect at first glance, making it a more immersive and comfortable experience in every single game and experience that we've tried. A lot of the ‘presence’ described by devs at the Valve [prototype VR headset] demonstration can be attributed to their use of higher resolution (and lower persistence) panels, which has a noticeable impact in suspending disbelief and tricking the brain."

    135 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Samsung Claims Breakthrough In Graphene Chip Design

    jfruh (300774) writes "Graphene, a carbon-based crystalline lattice that is extremely strong, lightweight, and an excellent conductor of electricity and heat, is coveted as a potential base for semiconductor chip design, and Samsung, working with the Sungkyungkwan University School of Advanced Materials Science and Engineering, has claimed a big jump towards that goal. With IBM also making progress in this realm, the days of silicon could actually be numbered."

    88 comments | about two weeks ago

  • AMD Unveils the Liquid-Cooled, Dual-GPU Radeon R9 295X2 At $1,500

    wesbascas (2475022) writes "This morning, AMD unveiled its latest flagship graphics board: the $1,500, liquid-cooled, dual-GPU Radeon R9 295X2. With a pair of Hawaii GPUs that power the company's top-end single-GPU Radeon R9 290X, the new board is sure to make waves at price points that Nvidia currently dominates. In gaming benchmarks, the R9 295X2 performs pretty much in line with a pair of R9 290X cards in CrossFire. However, the R9 295X2 uses specially-binned GPUs which enable the card to run with less power than a duo of the single-GPU cards. Plus, thanks to the closed-loop liquid cooler, the R9 295X doesn't succumb to the nasty throttling issues present on the R9 290X, nor its noisy solution."

    146 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Qualcomm Announces Next-Gen Snapdragon 808 and 810 SoCs

    MojoKid (1002251) writes "Qualcomm has announced two fundamentally new chips today with updated CPU cores as well as Qualcomm's new Adreno 400-class GPU. The Snapdragon 808 and the Snapdragon 810 have been unveiled with a host of new architectural enhancements. The Snapdragon 810 will be the highest-end solution, with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A57 paired alongside four low-power Cortex-A53 cores.

    The Snapdragon 808 will also use a big.Little design, but the core layouts will be asymmetric — two Cortex-A57's paired with four Cortex-A53's. The Cortex-A57 is, by all accounts, an extremely capable processor — which means a pair of them in a dual-core configuration should be more than capable of driving a high-end smartphone. Both SoC's will use a 20nm radio and a 28nm RF transceiver. That's a major step forward for Qualcomm (most RF today is built on 40nm). RF circuits typically lag behind digital logic by at least one process node. Given that RF currently accounts for some 15% of the total area and 30-40% of the PCB, the benefits of moving to a smaller manufacturing process for the RF circuit are significant."
    To clarify, the 810 can use a combination of the Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A53 cores so a single task that needs a lot of power won't cause as large of a power jump. All of the chips are 64-bit ARM too.

    47 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Seagate Releases 6TB Hard Drive Sans Helium

    Lucas123 (935744) writes "Seagate has released what it said is the industry's fastest hard drive with up to a 6TB capacity, matching one released by WD last year. WD's 6TB Ultrastar He6 was hermetically sealed with helium inside, something the company said was critical to reducing friction for additional platters, while also increasing power savings and reliability. Seagate, however, said it doesn't yet need to rely on Helium to achieve the 50% increase in capacity over its last 4TB drive. The company used the same perpendicular magnetic recording technology that it has on previous models, but it was able to increase areal density from 831 bits per square inch to 1,000. The new drive also comes in 2TB, 4TB and 5TB capacities and with either 12Gbps SAS or 6Gbps SATA connectivity. The six-platter, enterprise-class drive is rated to sustain about 550TB of writes per year — 10X that of a typical desktop drive."

    147 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Tesla: A Carmaker Or Grid-Storage Company?

    cartechboy (2660665) writes "Let's be real, the three Detroit automakers were skeptical of Tesla Motors, and rightfully so. But at this point, it's pretty hard to deny the impact this Silicon Valley automaker is having on the industry. Now there's a new question buzzing around: Is Tesla Motors actually a carmaker, or is it really just a grid-storage company? If you think about it, the company's stock price is too high for Toyota or Daimler to just buy it outright. So maybe Tesla's gigafactory will not only make batteries for its own electric cars, but it could also sell battery packs to electric utilities and others. In reality, the gigafactory could become its own separate company and just sell the battery packs to Tesla, and others."

    151 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Raspberry Pi Compute Module Release

    First time accepted submitter ControlsGeek (156589) writes "The Raspberry Pi Foundation has developed a new product. It is basically a Raspberry Pi model A processor, memory, and flash memory on a DDR2-style SODIMM connector. Also available will be a development board that breaks out all the internal connections. The board design will be open sourced so you can develop your own devices using the BCM2835 processor. No network, but support for 2 HDMI displays and 2 cameras, so 3D TV is a possibility.

    51 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Nanodot-Based Smartphone Battery Recharges In 30 Seconds

    Zothecula (1870348) writes "At Microsoft's Think Next symposium in Tel Aviv, Israeli startup StoreDot has demonstrated the prototype of a nanodot-based smartphone battery it claims can fully charge in just under 30 seconds. With the company having plans for mass production, this technology could change the way we interact with portable electronics, and perhaps even help realize the dream of a fast-charging electric car."

    227 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Fifty Years Ago IBM 'Bet the Company' On the 360 Series Mainframe

    Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Those of us of a certain age remember well the breakthrough that the IBM 360 series mainframes represented when it was unveiled fifty years ago on 7 April 1964. Now Mark Ward reports at BBC that the first System 360 mainframe marked a break with all general purpose computers that came before because it was possible to upgrade the processors but still keep using the same code and peripherals from earlier models. "Before System 360 arrived, businesses bought a computer, wrote programs for it and then when it got too old or slow they threw it away and started again from scratch," says Barry Heptonstall. IBM bet the company when they developed the 360 series. At the time IBM had a huge array of conflicting and incompatible lines of computers, and this was the case with the computer industry in general at the time, it was largely a custom or small scale design and production industry, but IBM was such a large company and the problems of this was getting obvious: When upgrading from one of the smaller series of IBM computers to a larger one, the effort in doing that transition was so big so you might as well go for a competing product from the "BUNCH" (Burroughs, Univac, NCR, CDC and Honeywell). Fred Brooks managed the development of IBM's System/360 family of computers and the OS/360 software support package and based his software classic "The Mythical Man-Month" on his observation that "adding manpower to a late software project makes it later." The S/360 was also the first computer to use microcode to implement many of its machine instructions, as opposed to having all of its machine instructions hard-wired into its circuitry. Despite their age, mainframes are still in wide use today and are behind many of the big information systems that keep the modern world humming handling such things as airline reservations, cash machine withdrawals and credit card payments. "We don't see mainframes as legacy technology," says Charlie Ewen. "They are resilient, robust and are very cost-effective for some of the work we do.""

    169 comments | about two weeks ago

  • The Verge: Google Is Working on a TV Box Of Its Own

    Amazon may have a slight lead in the world of Android-based TV-centric mini-boxes with its Amazon Fire TV, but according to this story, Google is getting set to release just such a box itself. "According to documents obtained exclusively by The Verge, Google is about to launch a renewed assault on your television set called Android TV. Major video app providers are building for the platform right now. Android TV may sound like a semantic difference — after all, Google TV was based on Android — but it’s something very different. Android TV is no longer a crazy attempt to turn your TV into a bigger, more powerful smartphone. "Android TV is an entertainment interface, not a computing platform," writes Google. "It’s all about finding and enjoying content with the least amount of friction." It will be "cinematic, fun, fluid, and fast." ... What does that all mean? It means that Android TV will look and feel a lot more like the rest of the set top boxes on the market, including Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire TV, and Roku."

    117 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Intel Releases $99 'MinnowBoard Max,' an Open-Source Single-Board Computer

    A few months back, we posted a video interview with some of the folks behind the Linux-friendly, x86-based MinnowBoard. TechCrunch reports the release of a more powerful version of the same all-in-one computer, now with a 1.91GHz Atom E3845 processor. According to the linked article, "The board's schematics are also available for download and the Intel graphics chipset has open-source drivers so hackers can have their way with the board. While it doesn’t compete directly with the Raspberry Pi – the Pi is more an educational tool and already has a robust ecosystem – it is a way for DIYers to mess around in x86 architected systems as well as save a bit of cash. The system uses break-out boards called Lures to expand functionality."

    97 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Tesla Model S Has Hidden Ethernet Port, User Runs Firefox On the 17" Screen

    New submitter FikseGTS (3604833) writes "A Tesla Model S owner located a 4 pin connector on the left side of the Tesla Model S dashboard that turns out to be a disguised ethernet networking port. After crafting his owns patch cable to connect with the Tesla's port, a networking connection was established between the Tesla Model S and a laptop computer. The Model S is running a 100 Mbps, full duplex ethernet network and 3 devices were found with assigned IP addresses in the 192.168.90.0 subnet. Some ports and services that were open on the devices were 22 (SSH), 23 (telnet),53 (open domain), 80 (HTTP), 111 (rpcbind), 2049 (NFS), 6000 (X11). Port 80 was serving up a web page with the image or media of the current song being played. The operating system is modified version of Ubuntu using an ext3 filesystem. Using X11 it also appears that someone was able to somewhat run Firefox on both of the Model S screens. Is a jailbroken Tesla Model S on the way?" Some more details on this front would be appreciated, for anyone who has a Tesla they'd like to explore.

    208 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Google Project Ara Design Will Use Electro-Permanent Magnets To Lock In Modules

    MojoKid writes: "Google's Project Ara, an effort to develop a modular smartphone platform, sounded at first as much like vaporware, but Google is actually making it happen. In an upbeat video, Dave Hakkens (the guy who created the Phonebloks design that appears to be the conceptual basis for Project Ara) visited the Google campus to see what progress is being made on the project. The teams working on Project Ara have figured out a key solution to one of the first problems they encountered, which was how to keep all the modules stuck together. They decided to use electro-permanent magnets. In terms of design, they've decided not to cover up the modules, instead making their very modularity part of the aesthetic appeal. 3D Systems is involved on campus, as they're delivering the 3D printing technology to make covers for the modules."

    62 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Cheaper Fuel From Self-Destructing Trees

    sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Wood is great for building and heating homes, but it's the bane of biofuels. When converting plants to fuels, engineers must remove a key component of wood, known as lignin, to get to the sugary cellulose that's fermented into alcohols and other energy-rich compounds. That's costly because it normally requires high temperatures and caustic chemicals. Now, researchers in the United States and Canada have modified the lignin in poplar trees to self-destruct under mild processing conditions—a trick that could slash the cost of turning plant biomass into biofuels."

    112 comments | about two weeks ago

  • An SSD for Your Current Computer May Save the Cost of a New One (Video)

    Obviously, the first performance enhancement you do on any computer you own is max out the RAM. RAM has gotten cheap, and adding more of it to almost any computer will make it faster without requiring any other modification (or any great skill). The next thing you need to do, says Larry O'Connor, the founder and CEO of Other World Computing (OWC), is move from a "platter" hard drive to a Solid State Drive (SSD). Larry's horse in this race is that his company sells SSDs, mostly for Macs. But he's a real evangelist about SSDs and computer mods in general, even if you buy them from NewEgg, Amazon or another vendor.

    A big (vendor-neutral) thing Larry points out is that just because you have a Terabyte drive in your computer now doesn't mean you need a Terabyte SSD, which can easily cost $500. Rather, he says, all you need is a large enough SSD to contain your OS and software and whatever data you're working with at the moment, so you might be able to get by with a 120 GB SSD that costs well under $100. Clone your current main drive, stick in the new SSD, and if your need more storage, get another hard drive (or use your old one). Simple. Efficient. And a lot cheaper than buying a new computer, whether we're talking about home, business or even enterprise use. (Alternate video link.)

    353 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Single-Celled Organism Converted Into Electronic Oscillator For Bio-Computing

    KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "The single-celled organism slime mold, or Physarum polycephalum, is an extraordinary creature. It explores its world by extending protoplasmic tubes into its surroundings in search of food and it does this rather well. Various researchers have exploited this process to show how Physarum can find optimal routes between different places and even solve mazes. Now one researcher has worked out how to use these protoplasmic tubes as clock-like electronic oscillators. His experiment was straightforward. He encouraged the growth of protoplasmic tubes between two blobs of agar sitting on electrical contacts. He then measured the resistance of the tubes at various voltages. This turns out to be about 6 megaohms. But the results show something else too: that the resistance oscillates over a period of about 73 seconds. That's due to the tubes contracting as waves of calcium ions pass through them. So altering the period of oscillation should be possible by influencing the production of calcium ions, perhaps using light or biochemistry. Electronic oscillators are significant because they are basic drivers of almost all active electronic devices. But this guy's goal is bigger than this. The plan is to grow a "Physarum chip" that acts as a general purpose computer, a device that will need some kind of oscillator or clock to co-ordinate activity, just as in an ordinary processor, although speed will not be its chief characteristic."

    34 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Amazon's Fire TV: Is It Worth Game Developers' Time?

    Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Amazon is serious about conquering the living room: the online retailer has launched Fire TV, a set-top box that not only allows viewers to stream content, but also play games. That streaming-and-gaming capability makes Amazon a threat to Apple, which rumors suggest is hard at work on an Apple TV capable of doing the same things. In addition, Fire TV puts the screws to other streaming hardware, including Roku and Google's Chromecast, as well as smaller game consoles such as Ouya (a $99, Android-based device). Much of Amazon's competitive muscle comes from its willingness to sell hardware for cheap (the Fire TV retails for $99) on the expectation that owners will use it to stream and download digital content from Amazon, including television shows and apps. Those developers who've developed Android games have an advantage when it comes to migrating software to Amazon's new platform. "Porting You Don't Know Jack was really like developing for Android, with the exception of the store and the new controller library," Jackbox Games Designer/Director Steve Heinrich told Gamasutra after the Fire TV announcement. "The store itself is the same as the Kindle version, which we've used many times now, and the way the controller works is very close to what we did for Ouya." While Fire TV could represent yet another opportunity for game developers looking to make a buck, it also raises a pressing question: with so many platforms out there (iOS, PC, etc.), how's an indie developer or smaller firm supposed to allocate time and resources to best advantage?"

    88 comments | about two weeks ago

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