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  • Your Entire PC In a Mouse

    slash-sa writes: A Polish software and hardware developer has created a prototype computer which is entirely housed within a mouse. Dubbed the Mouse-Box, it works like a conventional mouse, but contains a processor, flash storage, an HDMI connection, and Wi-Fi connectivity. It is connected to a monitor via the HDMI interface and connects to an Internet connection through standard Wi-Fi.

    165 comments | about a week ago

  • Police Nation-Wide Use Wall-Penetrating Radars To Peer Into Homes

    mi writes At least 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies have secretly equipped their officers with radar devices that allow them to effectively peer through the walls of houses to see whether anyone is inside. The device the Marshals Service and others are using, known as the Range-R, looks like a sophisticated stud-finder. Its display shows whether it has detected movement on the other side of a wall and, if so, how far away it is — but it does not show a picture of what's happening inside. The Range-R's maker, L-3 Communications, estimates it has sold about 200 devices to 50 law enforcement agencies at a cost of about $6,000 each. Other radar devices have far more advanced capabilities, including three-dimensional displays of where people are located inside a building, according to marketing materials from their manufacturers. One is capable of being mounted on a drone. And the Justice Department has funded research to develop systems that can map the interiors of buildings and locate the people within them.

    290 comments | about a week ago

  • Librem: a Laptop Custom-Made For Free/Libre Software

    Bunnie Huang's Novena laptop re-invents the laptop with open source (and Free software) in mind, but the hackability that it's built for requires a fair amount of tolerance on a user's part for funky design and visible guts. New submitter dopeghost writes with word of the nearly-funded (via Crowd Supply) Librem laptop, a different kind of Free-software machine using components "specifically selected so that no binary blobs are needed in the Linux kernel that ships with the laptop." Made from high quality components and featuring a MacBook-like design including a choice of HiDPI screen, the Librem might just be the first laptop to ship with a modern Intel CPU that is not locked down to require proprietary firmware.

    Richard M. Stallman, president of the FSF, said, "Getting rid of the signature checking is an important step. While it doesn't give us free code for the firmware, it means that users will really have control of the firmware once we get free code for it."
    Unlike some crowdfunding projects, this one is far from pie-in-the-sky, relying mostly on off-the-shelf components, with a planned shipping date in Spring of this year: "Purism is manufacturing the motherboard, and screen printing the keyboard. Purism is sourcing the case, daughter cards, memory, drives, battery, camera, and screen."

    227 comments | about a week ago

  • NJ Museum Revives TIROS Satellite Dish After 40 Years

    evanak writes TIROS was NASA's Television Infrared Observation Satellite. It launched in April 1960. One of the ground tracking stations was located at the U.S. Army's secret "Camps Evans" Signals Corps electronics R&D laboratory. That laboratory (originally a Marconi wireless telegraph lab) became the InfoAge Science Center in the 2000s. [Monday], after many years of restoration, InfoAge volunteers (led by Princeton U. professor Dan Marlowe) successfully received data from space. The dish is now operating for the first time in 40 years! The received data are in very raw form, but there is a clear peak riding on top of the noise background at 0.4 MHz (actually 1420.4 MHz), which is the well-known 21 cm radiation from the Milky Way. The dish was pointing south at an elevation of 45 degrees above the horizon.

    28 comments | about a week ago

  • The Fixes Sony's DualShock 4 Controller Still Needs

    An anonymous reader writes Sony's PS4 has been on sale for more than a year now, and while its revamped DualShock 4 controller has been critically lauded, it's not without its faults. A new article flags up the issues — both hardware and software — that Sony could look to improve. Almost all of the points — a bigger battery, more options for the lightbar, repositions Option button — could be fixed with a bit of elbow grease. After all, as the author points out, Sony has already quietly changed the model it ships with each console once already.

    59 comments | about a week ago

  • Samsung's Advanced Chips Give Its Cameras a Big Boost

    GhostX9 writes: SLR Lounge just posted a first look at the Samsung NX1 28.1 MP interchangeable lens camera. They compare it to Canon and Sony full-frame sensors. Spoiler: The Samsung sensor seems to beat the Sony A7R sensor up to ISO 3200. They attribute this to Samsung's chip foundry. While Sony is using 180nm manufacturing (Intel Pentium III era) and Canon is still using 500nm process (AMD DX4 era), Samsung has gone with 65nm with copper interconnects (Intel Core 2 Duo — Conroe era). Furthermore, Samsung's premium lenses appear to be as sharp or sharper than Canon's L line and Sony's Zeiss line in the center, although the Canon 24-70/2.8L II is sharper at the edge of the frame.

    192 comments | about a week ago

  • Microsoft Researchers Use Light Beams To Charge Smartphones

    angry tapir writes A group of Microsoft researchers has built a prototype charger for smartphones that can scan a room until it locates a mobile device compatible with the system and then charge the handset using a light beam. The researchers say they can achieve efficiency comparable to conventional wired phone chargers. The biggest barrier? Smartphones don't (yet) come with solar panels attached.

    65 comments | about a week ago

  • Insurance Company Dongles Don't Offer Much Assurance Against Hacking

    According to a story at Forbes, Digital Bond Labs hacker Corey Thuen has some news that should make you think twice about saving a few bucks on insurance by adding a company-supplied car-tracking OBD2 dongle: It’s long been theorised that [Progressive Insurance's Snapshot and other] such usage-based insurance dongles, which are permeating the market apace, would be a viable attack vector. Thuen says he’s now proven those hypotheses; previous attacks via dongles either didn’t name the OBD2 devices or focused on another kind of technology, namely Zubie, which tracks the performance of vehicles for maintenance and safety purposes. ... He started by extracting the firmware from the dongle, reverse engineering it and determining how to exploit it. It emerged the Snapshot technology, manufactured by Xirgo Technologies, was completely lacking in the security department, Thuen said. “The firmware running on the dongle is minimal and insecure. It does no validation or signing of firmware updates, no secure boot, no cellular authentication, no secure communications or encryption, no data execution prevention or attack mitigation technologies basically it uses no security technologies whatsoever.”

    199 comments | about a week ago

  • Nintendo Power Glove Used To Create 'Robot Chicken'

    dotarray (1747900) writes "Despite its glorious introduction in The Wizard, the Nintendo Power Glove was, from all accounts, a bit of a failure. However, Dillon Markey has given the doomed peripheral a new lease of life — it's a crucial part of making stop-motion animation for Robot Chicken." The linked article doesn't have many more words, but the video it features is worthwhile to see how Markey has modified the glove to make the tedious work of stop-motion a little bit less tedious.

    40 comments | about a week ago

  • Ask Slashdot: Can I Trust Android Rooting Tools?

    Qbertino writes After a long period of evaluation and weighing cons and pros I've gotten myself a brand new Android tablet (10" Lenovo Yoga 2, Android Version) destined to be my prime mobile computing device in the future. As any respectable freedom-loving geek/computer-expert I want to root it to be able to install API spoofing libraries and security tools to give me owners power over the machine and prevent services like Google and others spying on me, my files, photos, calendar and contacts. I also want to install an ad-blocking proxy (desperately needed — I forgot how much the normal web sucks!). I've searched for some rooting advice and tools, and so far have only stumbled on shady looking sites that offer various Windows-based rooting kits for android devices.

    What's the gist on all this? How much of this stuff is potential malware? What are your experiences? Can I usually trust rooting strategies to be malware-free? Is there a rule-of-thumb for this? Is there perhaps a more generic way for a FOSS/Linux expert who isn't afraid of the CLI to root any Android 4.4 (Kitkat) device? Advice and own experiences, please.

    184 comments | about a week ago

  • Engineer Combines Xbox One, PS4 Into Epic 'PlayBox' Laptop

    MojoKid writes We can finally stop arguing over which is the superior game console, the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. Quite frankly, it's a pointless debate, and it took a self-taught engineer to put the argument to rest, which he did by combining both game systems into a 22-inch laptop. Meet the "PlayBox," a gaming laptop that's equal parts Xbox One and PS4 rolled into one. The PlayBox wins the argument because it allows you to play games on either system, and when it comes down to it, the ability to play games is all that matters. Built for a "specific customer," the owner of this prototype system needn't worry about exclusives since he now has a system that can play them all, and do it while taking up no more space than a single console.

    78 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Ask Slashdot: What Tablet and Software For a Partially Sighted Person?

    RobHart (70431) writes My friend has had both retinas detach, twice. He is legally blind but partially sighted. He has a number of devices that help him read (either by magnifying the text or as text to speech) — but none are really portable. What do Slashdotters recommend (if anything) in terms of a tablet and software that will make it possible for him to do email and read at least some web sites?

    63 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Deep-Frying Graphene Microspheres For Energy Storage

    ckwu writes Materials scientists have constructed round, pom-pom-like graphene microparticles by spraying graphene oxide droplets into a hot solvent—a process akin to deep-frying. The technique could provide a simple, versatile means to make electrode materials for batteries and supercapacitors, possibly leading to devices with improved energy and power densities, the researchers say. The microparticles contain graphene nanosheets radiating out from their centers, which increases the exposed surface area of the graphene and creates open nanochannels that can enhance charge transfer. Electrodes made with the graphene microspheres had higher capacitance than those made with unassembled graphene sheets, demonstrating that the 3-D structure of the particles improved performance.

    49 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Google Glass Is Dead, Long Live Google Glass

    DumbSwede writes BBC reports on the demise of Google Glass as we know it: Google Glass sales halted but firm says kit is not dead. One can only assume there will be dissatisfied early adopters and developers given Google's decision. Here is to hoping Google Glass 2.0 (assuming there is one) will be better received. The Verge expands a bit on the re-org that the linked BBC article mentions, as a result of which Google Glass moves from the Google X incubator to its own division: Google's announcing today Glass is "graduating" from the Google X experimental projects incubator to become its own independent division — a division that will report into Nest's Tony Fadell. Current Glass head Ivy Ross will retain day-to-day authority, but she'll report to Fadell. Nest itself will remain separate and independent, and Tony will still be in charge there as well.

    141 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Ask Slashdot: Migrating a Router From Linux To *BSD?

    An anonymous reader writes I'm in the camp that doesn't trust systemd. You can discuss the technical merits of all init solutions all you want, but if I wanted to run Windows NT I'd run Windows NT, not Linux. So I've decided to migrate my homebrew router/firewall/samba server to one of the BSDs. Question one is: which BSD? Question two: where's some good documentation regarding setting up a home router/firewall on your favorite BSD?
    It's fine if the documentation is highly technical, I've written linux kernel drivers before :)

    402 comments | about two weeks ago

  • The Mainframe Is Dead! Long Live the Mainframe!

    HughPickens.com writes The death of the mainframe has been predicted many times over the years but it has prevailed because it has been overhauled time and again. Now Steve Lohr reports that IBM has just released the z13, a new mainframe engineered to cope with the huge volume of data and transactions generated by people using smartphones and tablets. "This is a mainframe for the mobile digital economy," says Tom Rosamilia. "It's a computer for the bow wave of mobile transactions coming our way." IBM claims the z13 mainframe is the first system able to process 2.5 billion transactions a day and has a host of technical improvements over its predecessor, including three times the memory, faster processing and greater data-handling capability. IBM spent $1 billion to develop the z13, and that research generated 500 new patents, including some for encryption intended to improve the security of mobile computing. Much of the new technology is designed for real-time analysis in business. For example, the mainframe system can allow automated fraud prevention while a purchase is being made on a smartphone. Another example would be providing shoppers with personalized offers while they are in a store, by tracking their locations and tapping data on their preferences, mainly from their previous buying patterns at that retailer.

    IBM brings out a new mainframe about every three years, and the success of this one is critical to the company's business. Mainframes alone account for only about 3 percent of IBM's sales. But when mainframe-related software, services and storage are included, the business as a whole contributes 25 percent of IBM's revenue and 35 percent of its operating profit. Ronald J. Peri, chief executive of Radixx International was an early advocate in the 1980s of moving off mainframes and onto networks of personal computers. Today Peri is shifting the back-end computing engine in the Radixx data center from a cluster of industry-standard servers to a new IBM mainframe and estimates the total cost of ownership including hardware, software and labor will be 50 percent less with a mainframe. "We kind of rediscovered the mainframe," says Peri.

    164 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Google To Test Build-It-Yourself Ara Smartphones In Puerto Rico

    An anonymous reader writes Google is holding its second Project Ara developer's conference today in Mountain View and is in the process of giving a roadmap on how and when it might get its modular smartphones out into the market. Probably the most notable bit of news we've learned so far is that Google plans to have a market pilot ready to go in the second half of this year. Unfortunately, if you want to give it a shot, you'll need to live in Puerto Rico — the pilot will roll out in that territory in partnership with carriers OpenMobile and Claro. When Project Ara hits Puerto Rico, users should be able to customize their devices using the Ara Marketplace and Ara Configurator apps. Google's ATAP group will also roll out some "food-truck" style stores for consumers to actually check these devices out before they try them out. Google also says that it'll have some 20 to 30 Ara modules available by launch across 10 different categories.

    61 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Tiny Fanless Mini-PC Runs Linux Or Windows On Quad-core AMD SoC

    DeviceGuru writes CompuLab has unveiled a tiny 'Fitlet' mini-PC that runs Linux or Windows on a dual- or quad-core 64-bit AMD x86 SoC (with integrated Radeon R3 or R2 GPU), clocked at up to 1.6GHz, and offering extensive I/O, along with modular internal expansion options. The rugged, reconfigurable 4.25 x 3.25 x 0.95 in. system will also form the basis of a pre-configured 'MintBox Mini' model, available in Q2 in partnership with the Linux Mint project. To put things in perspective, CompuLab says the Fitlet is three times smaller than the Celeron Intel NUC.

    180 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Where Cellular Networks Don't Exist, People Are Building Their Own

    New submitter TechCurmudgeon writes: According to a story at Wired, towns in Mexico that aren't served by the nation's telecom monopoly are taking matters in their own hands with the help of a non-profit and open source technology. "Strategically ignored by Mexico's major telecoms, Yaee is putting itself on the mobile communications grid with the help of a Oaxaca-based telecommunications non-profit called Rhizomatica." A locally-made tower is the backbone of Yaee's first cellular network. The town's network is composed of two antennas and an open-source base station from a Canadian company called NuRAN. Once Yaee gets the tower installed and the network online, its 500 citizens will, for the first time, be able to make cell phone calls from home, and for cheaper rates than almost anywhere else in Mexico.

    104 comments | about two weeks ago

  • The Legacy of CPU Features Since 1980s

    jones_supa writes: David Albert asked the following question:

    "My mental model of CPUs is stuck in the 1980s: basically boxes that do arithmetic, logic, bit twiddling and shifting, and loading and storing things in memory. I'm vaguely aware of various newer developments like vector instructions (SIMD) and the idea that newer CPUs have support for virtualization (though I have no idea what that means in practice). What cool developments have I been missing? "

    An article by Dan Luu answers this question and provides a good overview of various cool tricks modern CPUs can perform. The slightly older presentation Compiler++ by Jim Radigan also gives some insight on how C++ translates to modern instruction sets.

    180 comments | about two weeks ago

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