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Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places? 200

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-not,-the-power-company-just-hates-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes: I live in a relatively large college town that's within easy driving distance of several major metropolitan centers. In many ways, the infrastructure around here is top-notch. The major exception is the electrical grid. Lightning storm? Power outage. Heavy winds? Power outage. Lots of rain? Power outage. Some areas around town are immune to this — like around the hospital, for obvious reasons. But others seem to lose power at the drop of hat. Why is this? If it were a tiny village or in the middle of nowhere, it would make sense to me. What problems do the utility companies face that they can't keep service steady? Do you deal with a lot of outages where you live? I'm not sure if it's just an investment issue or a technological one. It hasn't gotten better in the decade I've lived here, and I can imagine it will only get worse as the infrastructure ages.
Data Storage

Is LTO Tape On Its Way Out? 165

Posted by Soulskill
from the IT-no-longer-caught-on-tape dept.
storagedude writes: With LTO media sales down by 50% in the last six years, is the end near for tape? With such a large installed base, it may not be imminent, but the time is coming when vendors will find it increasingly difficult to justify continued investment in tape technology, writes Henry Newman at Enterprise Storage Forum.

"If multiple vendors invest in a technology, it has a good chance of winning over the long haul," writes Newman, a long-time proponent of tape technology. "If multiple vendors have a technology they're not investing in, it will eventually lose over time. Of course, over time market requirements can change. It is these interactions that I fear that are playing out in the tape market."

How the World's First Computer Was Rescued From the Scrap Heap 83

Posted by Soulskill
from the one-man's-trash dept.
anavictoriasaavedra sends this quote from Wired: "Eccentric billionaires are tough to impress, so their minions must always think big when handed vague assignments. Ross Perot's staffers did just that in 2006, when their boss declared that he wanted to decorate his Plano, Texas, headquarters with relics from computing history. Aware that a few measly Apple I's and Altair 880's wouldn't be enough to satisfy a former presidential candidate, Perot's people decided to acquire a more singular prize: a big chunk of ENIAC, the "Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer." The ENIAC was a 27-ton, 1,800-square-foot bundle of vacuum tubes and diodes that was arguably the world's first true computer. The hardware that Perot's team diligently unearthed and lovingly refurbished is now accessible to the general public for the first time, back at the same Army base where it almost rotted into oblivion.
Input Devices

Samsung Shows 'Eye Mouse' For People With Disabilities 14

Posted by Soulskill
from the eye-for-a-ui dept.
Samsung today announced a project among a group of its engineers to build an input device that allows people with limited mobility to operate a computer through eye movement alone. The EYECAN+ is a rectangular box that needs to be situated roughly 60-70cm away from a user's face. Once calibrated, it will superimpose a multifunction UI and track a user's eye movements to move the cursor where they want. Samsung says they won't be commercializing this device, but they'll soon be making the design open source for any company or organization who wants to start building them.
Data Storage

How Intel and Micron May Finally Kill the Hard Disk Drive 354

Posted by Soulskill
from the it-was-the-SSD-in-the-enclosure-with-the-massive-IOPS dept.
itwbennett writes: For too long, it looked like SSD capacity would always lag well behind hard disk drives, which were pushing into the 6TB and 8TB territory while SSDs were primarily 256GB to 512GB. That seems to be ending. In September, Samsung announced a 3.2TB SSD drive. And during an investor webcast last week, Intel announced it will begin offering 3D NAND drives in the second half of next year as part of its joint flash venture with Micron. Meanwhile, hard drive technology has hit the wall in many ways. They can't really spin the drives faster than 7,200 RPM without increasing heat and the rate of failure. All hard drives have now is the capacity argument; speed is all gone. Oh, and price. We'll have to wait and see on that.
The Military

How the Pentagon's Robots Would Automate War 112

Posted by Soulskill
from the peace-reigns-when-the-war-servers-are-down-for-scheduled-maintenance dept.
rossgneumann writes: Pentagon officials are worried that the U.S. military is losing its edge compared to competitors like China, and are willing to explore almost anything to stay on top—including creating robots capable of becoming fighting machines. A 72-page document throws detailed light on the far-reaching implications of the Pentagon's plan to monopolize imminent "transformational advances" in biotechnology, robotics and artificial intelligence, information technology, nanotechnology, and energy.

Corning Reveals Gorilla Glass 4, Promises No More Broken IPhones 199

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-throw-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Corning introduced next-generation Gorilla Glass, which it said is ten times tougher than any competitive cover glass now in the market. The company says that the Gorilla Glass 4 so launched is to address the No.1 problem among the smartphones users- screen breakage due to everyday drops."

Samsung Seeking To Block Nvidia Chips From US Market 90

Posted by Soulskill
from the making-the-lawyers-rich dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Bloomberg reports that Samsung has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission asking them to block the import of Nvidia's graphics chips . This is part of Samsung's retaliation for a similar claim filed by Nvidia against Samsung and Qualcomm back in September. Both companies are wielding patents pertaining to the improved operation of graphics chips in cell phones and other mobile devices.

Eizo Debuts Monitor With 1:1 Aspect Ratio 326

Posted by Soulskill
from the hip-to-be-square dept.
jones_supa writes: Eizo has introduced an interesting new PC monitor with a square aspect ratio: the Eizo FlexScan EV2730Q is a 26.5-inch screen with 1:1 aspect ratio and an IPS panel with resolution of 1920 x 1920 pixels. "The extended vertical space is convenient for displaying large amounts of information in long windows, reducing the need for excess scrolling and providing a more efficient view of data," the firm writes. The monitor also offers flicker-free (non-PWM) backlight and reduced blue light features to avoid scorching users' eyes. Would a square display be of any benefit to you?

Linux On a Motorola 68000 Solder-less Breadboard 147

Posted by Soulskill
from the back-to-basics dept.
New submitter lars_stefan_axelsson writes: When I was an undergrad in the eighties, "building" a computer meant that you got a bunch of chips and a soldering iron and went to work. The art is still alive today, but instead of a running BASIC interpreter as the ultimate proof of success, today the crowning achievement is getting Linux to run: "What does it take to build a little 68000-based protoboard computer, and get it running Linux? In my case, about three weeks of spare time, plenty of coffee, and a strong dose of stubbornness. After banging my head against the wall with problems ranging from the inductance of pushbutton switches to memory leaks in the C standard library, it finally works! (video)"

Molecular Clusters That Can Retain Charge Could Revolutionize Computer Memory 36

Posted by Soulskill
from the ever-smaller-ever-faster dept.
jfruh writes:Computing devices have been gobbling up more and more memory, but storage tech has been hitting its limits, creating a bottleneck. Now researchers in Spain and Scotland have reported a breakthrough in working with metal-oxide clusters that can retain their charge. These molecules could serve as the basis for RAM and flash memory that will be leagues smaller than existing components (abstract).
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: What's the Most Hackable Car? 194

Posted by Soulskill
from the aside-from-the-delorean dept.
An anonymous reader writes: When looking for a new (or used) car, I have readily available information regarding features, maintenance history, and potential issues for that specific model or generation. What I would really like is a car that is readily hackable on the convenience-feature level. For example, if I want to install a remote starter, or hack the power windows so holding 'up' automatically rolls it up, or install a readout on the rear of the car showing engine RPMs, what make/model/year is the best pick? Have any of you done something similar with your vehicle? Have you found certain models to be ideal or terrible for feature hacking?

Microsoft Rolls Out Robot Security Guards 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the please-register-that-copy-of-windows.-you-have-20-seconds-to-comply dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft is testing a group of five robot security guards. They contain a sophisticated sensor suite that includes 360-degree HD video, thermal imaging, night vision, LIDAR, and audio recorders. They can also detect various chemicals and radiation signatures, and do some rudimentary behavioral analysis on people they see. (And they look a bit like Daleks.) The robots are unarmed, so we don't have to worry about a revolt just yet, but they can sound an alarm and call for human officers. They weigh about 300 lbs each, can last roughly a day on a battery charge, and know to head to the charging station when they're low on power.

Intel Planning Thumb-Sized PCs For Next Year 101

Posted by timothy
from the why-not-all-the-fingers dept.
angry tapir (1463043) writes Intel is shrinking PCs to thumb-sized "compute sticks" that will be out next year. The stick will plug into the back of a smart TV or monitor "and bring intelligence to that," said Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of the PC Client Group at Intel, during the Intel investor conference in Santa Clara, California. They might be a bit late to the party, but since Skaugen mentioned both Chromecast and Amazon's Fire TV Stick, hopefully that means Intel has some more interesting and general-purpose plans.

CMI Director Alex King Talks About Rare Earth Supplies (Video 2) 11

Posted by Roblimo
from the the're-still-looking-for-unobtanium dept.
Yesterday we ran video #1 of 2 about the Critical Materials Institute (CMI) at the Iowa State Ames Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. They have partners from other national laboratories, universities, and industry, too. Obviously there is more than enough information on this subject that Dr. King can easily fill two 15-minute videos, not to mention so many Google links that instead of trying to list all of them, we're giving you one link to Google using the search term "rare earths." Yes, we know Rare Earth would be a great name for a rock band. But the mineral rare earths are important in the manufacture of items ranging from strong magnets to touch screens and rechargeable batteries, so please watch the video(s) or at least read the transcript(s). (Alternate Video Link)

Lessons Learned From Google's Green Energy Bust 219

Posted by timothy
from the systems-have-momentum-and-context dept.
the_newsbeagle writes In 2007, Google boldly declared a new initiative to invent a green energy technology that produced cheaper electricity than coal-fired power plants. Sure, energy researchers had been hammering at this task for decades, but Google hoped to figure it out in a few years. They didn't. Instead, Google admitted defeat and shut down the project in 2011. In a admirable twist, however, two of the project's engineers then dedicated themselves to learning from the project's failure. What did it mean that one of the world's most ambitious and capable innovation companies couldn't invent a cheap renewable energy tech?
United States

US Intelligence Unit Launches $50k Speech Recognition Competition 62

Posted by samzenpus
from the unseen-mechanized-ear dept.
coondoggie writes The $50,000 challenge comes from researchers at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The competition, known as Automatic Speech recognition in Reverberant Environments (ASpIRE), hopes to get the industry, universities or other researchers to build automatic speech recognition technology that can handle a variety of acoustic environments and recording scenarios on natural conversational speech.

What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered? 519

Posted by samzenpus
from the still-going dept.
StartsWithABang writes After successfully landing on a comet with all 10 instruments intact, but failing to deploy its thrusters and harpoons to anchor onto the surface, Philae bounced, coming to rest in an area with woefully insufficient sunlight to keep it alive. After exhausting its primary battery, it went into hibernation, most likely never to wake again. We'll always be left to wonder what might have been if it had functioned optimally, and given us years of data rather than just 60 hours worth. The thing is, it wouldn't have needed to function optimally to give us years of data, if only it were better designed in one particular aspect: powered by Plutonium-238 instead of by solar panels.

CMI Director Alex King Talks About Rare Earth Supplies (Video) 27

Posted by Roblimo
from the we're-talking-about-minerals-not-the-band dept.
CMI in this context is the Critical Materials Institute at the Iowa State Ames Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. They have partners from other national laboratories, universities, and industry, too. Rare earths, while not necessarily as rare as the word "rare" implies, are hard to mine, separate, and use. They are often found in parts per million quantities, so it takes supercomputers to suss out which deposits are worth going after. This is what Dr. King and his coworkers spend their time doing; finding concentrations of rare earths that can be mined and refined profitably.

On November 3 we asked you for questions to put to Dr. King. Timothy incorporated some of those questions into the conversation in this video -- and tomorrow's video too, since we broke this into two parts because, while the subject matter may be fascinating, we are supposed to hold video lengths down to around 10 minutes, and in this case we still ended up with two videos close to 15 minutes each. And this stuff is important enough that instead of lining up a list of links, we are giving you one link to Google using the search term "rare earths." Yes, we know Rare Earth would be a great name for a rock band. But the mineral rare earths are important in the manufacture of items from strong magnets to touch screens and rechargeable batteries. (Alternate Video Link)

Halting Problem Proves That Lethal Robots Cannot Correctly Decide To Kill Humans 327

Posted by Soulskill
from the guess-we're-back-to-coinflips dept.
KentuckyFC writes: The halting problem is to determine whether an arbitrary computer program, once started, will ever finish running or whether it will continue forever. In 1936, Alan Turing famously showed that there is no general algorithm that can solve this problem. Now a group of computer scientists and ethicists have used the halting problem to tackle the question of how a weaponized robot could decide to kill a human. Their trick is to reformulate the problem in algorithmic terms by considering an evil computer programmer who writes a piece of software on which human lives depend.

The question is whether the software is entirely benign or whether it can ever operate in a way that ends up killing people. In general, a robot could never decide the answer to this question. As a result, autonomous robots should never be designed to kill or harm humans, say the authors, even though various lethal autonomous robots are already available. One curious corollary is that if the human brain is a Turing machine, then humans can never decide this issue either, a point that the authors deliberately steer well clear of.

Passwords are implemented as a result of insecurity.