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NES (Games)

Doyodo RetroEngine Sigma Is a Linux-Powered Classic Video Game Emulation Console (betanews.com) 91

BrianFagioli quotes a report from BetaNews: The Nintendo NES Classic is quite an amazing console. True, it is not as powerful as modern game systems like Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but it comes pre-loaded with many classic NES titles. Unfortunately, its strength is also its weakness -- those pre-loaded titles are the only games you can play. You cannot load other games, so you are stuck with what you got. As an alternative, some folks use software emulation and ROMs on their computers to play countless video game titles. Of course, there are moral concerns here, as you are often downloading the games illegally -- unless you own the physical copy, that is. Even then, it is a gray area. Today, a company called Doyodo launched a new Linux-powered emulation console on Indiegogo. The device not only plays NES games, but Atari, Game Boy, PlayStation 1, Genesis, and more. You play using USB controllers. In addition, it can serve as a media player (with Kodi) or a full-fledged Linux desktop. Some other features include 4K video playback, Wi-Fi networking built in, and a compact and portable design. There's even a deluxe version that ships with Bluetooth, an extra controller and 32GB of storage; the basic configuration includes just one controller and 16GB of storage. You can view the Indiegogo page here.
IBM

Erich Bloch, Who Helped Develop IBM Mainframe, Dies At 91 (google.com) 40

shadowknot writes: The New York Times is reporting (Warning: may be paywalled; alternate source) that Erich Bloch who helped to develop the IBM Mainframe has died at the age of 91 as a result of complications from Alzheimer's disease. From the article: "In the 1950s, he developed the first ferrite-core memory storage units to be used in computers commercially and worked on the IBM 7030, known as Stretch, the first transistorized supercomputer. 'Asked what job each of us had, my answer was very simple and very direct,' Mr. Bloch said in 2002. 'Getting that sucker working.' Mr. Bloch's role was to oversee the development of Solid Logic Technology -- half-inch ceramic modules for the microelectronic circuitry that provided the System/360 with superior power, speed and memory, all of which would become fundamental to computing."
Movies

British Film Institute To Digitize 100,000 Old TV Shows Before They Disappear (bbc.com) 124

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BBC: Thousands of British TV programs are to be digitized before they are lost forever, the British Film Institute says. Anarchic children's show Tiswas and The Basil Brush Show are among the programs in line for preservation. The initiative was announced as part of the BFI's five-year strategy for 2017-2022. "Material from the 70s and early 80s is at risk," said Heather Stewart, the BFI's creative director. "It has a five or six-year shelf life and if we don't do something about it will just go, no matter how great the environment is we keep it in. "Our job is make sure that things are there in 200 years' time." The BFI has budgeted $14.3 million of Lottery funding towards its goal of making the UK's entire screen heritage digitally accessible. This includes an estimated 100,000 of the "most at-risk" British TV episodes and clips held on obsolete video formats. The list includes "early children's programming, little-seen dramas, regional programs and the beginnings of breakfast television." The issue for the BFI, Ms Stewart added, was also to do with freeing up storage space. "We have a whole vault which is wall-to-wall video. If we digitized it, it would be in a robot about the size of a wardrobe," she said.
Cloud

Seagate Introduces External Hard Drive That Automatically Backs Up To Amazon's Cloud (theverge.com) 106

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Seagate and Amazon have partnered up on a $99 1TB external hard drive that automatically backs up everything stored on it to the cloud. The Seagate Duet drive's contents are cloned to Amazon Drive, so you can be pretty confident that your important stuff will be safe. Getting set up with the cloud backup process requires plugging in the drive, signing in with your Amazon account -- and that's pretty much it, from the sounds of it. Drag and drop files over, and you'll be able to access them from the web or Amazon's Drive app on smartphones and tablets. If you're new to the Drive service, Seagate claims you'll get a year of unlimited storage just for buying the hard drive, which normally costs $59.99 annually. Amazon's listing for the Duet (the only way to buy it right now) confirms as much, but there's some fine print: Offer is U.S.-only; Not valid for current Amazon Drive Unlimited Storage paid subscription customers; You've got to redeem the promo code within two months of buying the hard drive if you want the year's worth of unlimited cloud storage; If you return the Duet, Amazon says it will likely reduce your 12 months of unlimited Drive storage down to three, which beats taking it away altogether, I guess.
Power

Scientists Turn Nuclear Waste Into Diamond Batteries (newatlas.com) 156

Scientists at the University of Bristol have found a way to convert thousands of tons of nuclear waste into man-made diamond batteries that can generate a small electric current for thousands of years. New Atlas reports: How to dispose of nuclear waste is one of the great technical challenges of the 21st century. The trouble is, it usually turns out not to be so much a question of disposal as long-term storage. Disposal, therefore is more often a matter of keeping waste safe, but being able to get at it later when needed. One unexpected example of this is the Bristol team's work on a major source of nuclear waste from Britain's aging Magnox reactors, which are now being decommissioned after over half a century of service. These first generation reactors used graphite blocks as moderators to slow down neutrons to keep the nuclear fission process running, but decades of exposure have left the UK with 104,720 tons of graphite blocks that are now classed as nuclear waste because the radiation in the reactors changes some of the inert carbon in the blocks into radioactive carbon-14. Carbon-14 is a low-yield beta particle emitter that can't penetrate even a few centimeters of air, but it's still too dangerous to allow into the environment. Instead of burying it, the Bristol team's solution is to remove most of the c-14 from the graphite blocks and turn it into electricity-generating diamonds. The nuclear diamond battery is based on the fact that when a man-made diamond is exposed to radiation, it produces a small electric current. According to the researchers, this makes it possible to build a battery that has no moving parts, gives off no emissions, and is maintenance-free. The Bristol researchers found that the carbon-14 wasn't uniformly distributed in the Magnox blocks, but is concentrated in the side closest to the uranium fuel rods. To produce the batteries, the blocks are heated to drive out the carbon-14 from the radioactive end, leaving the blocks much less radioactive than before. c-14 gas is then collected and using low pressures and high temperatures is turned into man-made diamonds. Once formed, the beta particles emitted by the c-14 interact with the diamond's crystal lattice, throwing off electrons and generating electricity. The diamonds themselves are radioactive, so they are given a second non-radioactive diamond coating to act as a radiation shield.
PlayStation (Games)

'No Man's Sky' Releases Huge New 'Foundation' Update (thenextweb.com) 112

"No Man's Sky changed a great deal this morning, getting new modes and a ton of gameplay tweaks thanks to update 1.1, the largest one yet," reports Kotaku. Calling it "the first of many free updates," the game's developers introduced a new Minecraft-style Creative Mode which "allows players to explore the universe without limits, and build a huge base," plus a tougher Survival Mode, "creating a much more challenging endurance experience." The Next Web calls it "features that really should have been in the game from Day One." Now, when you stumble upon a desolate outpost, you can build your own base on it, which can be upgraded with new housing, hydroponics, research, and storage buildings. If all goes well, you'll start to attract alien settlers who bring their own skills to your new society. As your stockpiles of resources begin to swell, you'll want to schlep them across the galaxy to other bases and trade terminals. Which is where freighters come in... Oh, and did I mention you can now stack items five times per inventory slot, meaning you can carry more stuff? Handy. "The discussion around No Man's Sky since release has been intense and dramatic," Hello Games announced Friday, describing update 1.1 as "putting in place a foundation for things to come... the first small step in a longer journey." Hello Games founder Sean Murray tweeted "We're getting better as quickly as we can for the players who invested in us," adding "Thank you for sticking with us." At 2 a.m. this morning, he tweeted "If you could have lived our lives over the last months, you'd know how meaningful this is," adding "Here's the update..."
Power

Tesla Runs an Entire Island on Solar Power (engadget.com) 191

Jon Fingas, writing for Engadget:Now that Tesla has officially acquired SolarCity, it's not wasting any time showing what the combined entity can do. Tesla has revealed that it's running the island of Ta'u (in American Samoa) on a solar energy microgrid that, at 1.4 megawatts, can cover "nearly 100 percent" of electrical needs. It's not just the 5,328 solar panels that are key -- it's the 60 Tesla Powerpacks that offer 6 megawatt-hours of energy storage. While Ta'u is normally very sunny, the packs can keep it running for three days without sunlight. They don't have to worry about a cloudy day leading to blackouts. The solar switch, which took a year to complete, has both its long-term environmental and immediate practical benefits. Like many remote communities, Ta'u previously had to run on diesel generators. That burns 300 gallons of fuel per day, which is neither eco-friendly nor cheap. Solar eliminates the pollution, of course, but it also saves the cost of having to continuously buy and ship barrels of diesel. And crucially, it provides a more reliable source of electricity.
Network

Apple Abandons Development of Wireless Routers, To Focus On Products That Return More Profit (bloomberg.com) 238

Apple has disbanded its division that develops wireless routers in a move that further sharpens the company's focus on consumer products that generate the bulk of its revenue, Bloomberg reports. From the article:Apple began shutting down the wireless router team over the past year, dispersing engineers to other product development groups, including the one handling the Apple TV. Apple hasn't refreshed its routers since 2013 following years of frequent updates to match new standards from the wireless industry. The decision to disband the team indicates the company isn't currently pushing forward with new versions of its routers. Routers are access points that connect laptops, iPhones and other devices to the web without a cable. Apple currently sells three wireless routers, the AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, and AirPort Time capsule. The Time capsule doubles as a backup storage hard drive for Mac computers.
Google

Is Google's AI-Driven Image-Resizing Algorithm Dishonest? (thestack.com) 79

The Stack reports on Google's "new research into upscaling low-resolution images using machine learning to 'fill in' the missing details," arguing this is "a questionable stance...continuing to propagate the idea that images contain some kind of abstract 'DNA', and that there might be some reliable photographic equivalent of polymerase chain reaction which could find deeper truth in low-res images than either the money spent on the equipment or the age of the equipment will allow." An anonymous reader summarizes their report: Rapid and Accurate Image Super Resolution (RAISR) uses low and high resolution versions of photos in a standard image set to establish templated paths for upward scaling... This effectively uses historical logic, instead of pixel interpolation, to infer what the image would look like if it had been taken at a higher resolution.

It's notable that neither their initial paper nor the supplementary examples feature human faces. It could be argued that using AI-driven techniques to reconstruct images raises some questions about whether upscaled, machine-driven digital enhancements are a legal risk, compared to the far greater expense of upgrading low-res CCTV networks with the necessary resolution, bandwidth and storage to obtain good quality video evidence.

The article points out that "faith in the fidelity of these 'enhanced' images routinely convicts defendants."
IT

Slashdot Asks: Is Paperless Office a Dream? (betanews.com) 260

A new report by Danwood, which surveyed 1,000 office workers, almost half said that they print something every day and 84 percent said printing things on paper at work was an "important aspect of work." In the past, we have seen a trend growing at many workplaces where things are moving increasingly digital, implying strongly that our reliance on paper must be reducing as a result. From a report: Danwood even cites a recent IDC research which says 49 percent of business expect their print volumes to increase over the next two years. Eight in ten (80 percent) of respondents say they need paper documents to get their job done. "Despite a move to digitization, organizations remain reliant on print", says Danwood CEO Wes Mulligan. "Businesses are mindful of unnecessary waste when it comes to physical documents, but print and digital will continue to coexist in today's organizations. The easiest way to strike a balance is to look at ways that you can better integrate paper and digital processes to have a real impact on efficiency, productivity and cost reduction."What do you guys think? Will we ever hit a stage where paper will have a minimal footprint, if at all, at workplaces?

Update: Reader argStyopa shares his views on why paper is here to stay, and for good: (1) Paper is portable and readable in all circumstances. I don't need to fire up a reader, connect to Wi-Fi, turn on a laptop, whatever: here's your piece of paper, read it.
(2) Paper is durable and fixed-format: if I put a paper in a file and come back 10 or even 100 years later, barring catastrophe, it'll still be there. The vagaries of non-cloud storage, and (for the cloud) the evolution of e-storage and e-doc formats means that even if I HAVE the file, I might not be able to read/open it. I have enough trouble opening now 25-year-old docs from my college days plunking on a MacSE.
(3) It's harder to edit paper: simply put, e-docs are easier to fake, generally.

The Almighty Buck

Elon Musk: Tesla's Solar Roof Will Cost Less Than a Traditional Roof (bloomberg.com) 428

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: After Tesla shareholders approved the acquisition of SolarCity, the new company is now an unequivocal sun-to-vehicle energy firm. And Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk didn't take long to make his first big announcement as head of this new enterprise. Minutes after shareholders approved the deal -- about 85 percent of them voted yes -- Musk told the crowd that he had just returned from a meeting with his new solar engineering team. Tesla's new solar roof product, he proclaimed, will actually cost less to manufacture and install than a traditional roof -- even before savings from the power bill. "Electricity," Musk said, "is just a bonus." If Musk's claims prove true, this could be a real turning point in the evolution of solar power. The rooftop shingles he unveiled just a few weeks ago are something to behold: They're made of textured glass and are virtually indistinguishable from high-end roofing products. They also transform light into power for your home and your electric car. "So the basic proposition will be: Would you like a roof that looks better than a normal roof, lasts twice as long, costs less and -- by the way -- generates electricity?" Musk said. "Why would you get anything else?" Much of the cost savings Musk is anticipating comes from shipping the materials. Traditional roofing materials are brittle, heavy, and bulky. Shipping costs are high, as is the quantity lost to breakage. The new tempered-glass roof tiles, engineered in Tesla's new automotive and solar glass division, weigh as little as a fifth of current products and are considerably easier to ship, Musk said.
Data Storage

Samsung Launches SSD 960 EVO NVMe Drive At 3GB/Sec and Under .50 Per Gigabyte (hothardware.com) 108

MojoKid writes: When Samsung announced the SSD 960 PRO and SSD 960 EVO NVMe drives a few months back, their specifications, which included transfer speeds in excess of 3.2GB/s, were among the fastest for consumer-class M.2-based Solid State Drives currently. Testing proved the SSD 960 Pro to be one of the fastest NVMe drives on the market, and like that drive, Samsung's just-launched SSD 960 EVO is packing the company's latest 5-core Polaris controller -- but it features lower cost 3rd-generation 3-bit MLC V-NAND flash memory and a newly revamped version of Samsung TurboWrite technology. Though the SSD 960 EVO family's pricing places it firmly in the mainstream segment for NVMe-based solid state drives, its performance still targets enthusiasts but with lower endurance ranging from 100-400 TBW (Terabytes Written), depending on capacity. The new Samsung SSD 960 EVO comes in 250GB, 500GB and 1TB capacities and is still able to hit 3GB/sec in testing. Though it does trail the SSD 960 Pro in spots, it also drops in at a 15-20 percent lower price point.
Data Storage

Apple's New 15-Inch MacBook Pros Have Storage Soldered To the Logic Board (macrumors.com) 478

yoink! writes: The integration loop is complete. Apple's, admittedly very fast, PCIe storage modules are now built right into the main boards of their 15-inch, Touch Bar-equipped, Retina-screened, Thunderbolt 3-ported, MacBook Pros. A few forum posts over at MacRumors reveal the skinny on the quiet removal of the last user-upgradable component of their professional-series laptops. From the report: "MacRumors reader Jesse D. unscrewed the bottom lid on his new 15-inch MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar and discovered, unlike the 13-inch model sans Touch Bar, there is no cutout in the logic board for removable flash storage. Another reader said the 13-inch model with a Touch Bar also has a non-removable SSD. Given the SSD appears to be permanently soldered to the logic board, users will be unable to upgrade the Touch Bar MacBook Pro's flash storage beyond Apple's 512GB to 2TB built-to-order options on its website at the time of purchase. In other words, the amount of flash storage you choose will be permanent for the life of the notebook."
Android

OnePlus 3T Smartphone Featuring Snapdragon 821 Launched (hothardware.com) 55

OnePlus today announced the OnePlus 3T, an upgrade to the OnePlus 3 it had launched earlier this year. Both the phones are quite similar, the company says, save for a more powerful processor -- Qualcomm's Snapdragon 821 processor, and increased storage -- 64GB and 128GB. The price of the OnePlus 3T starts at $439, with the top model breaking the bank at $479. HotHardware adds:The most prominent change is the addition of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor (in place the "old" Snapdragon 820). The SoC is still paired with 6GB of RAM, and up to 128GB of internal storage can be ordered. The 16MP rear camera remains, but the front-facing "selfie" camera has been upgraded from 8MP to 16MP (Samsung 3P8SP sensor). It incorporates an f/2.0 lens and features phase detection autofocus (PDAF). The OnePlus 3T can also capture automatic selfies when you smile for the camera. Another big upgrade comes from the internal battery. The OnePlus 3 shipped with a 3,000 mAh battery -- the OnePlus 3T counters with larger 3,400 mAh battery to further boost your runtimes. Despite the larger battery, the OnePlus 3T still weighs the same as its predecessor: 158 grams. Other features include a 5.5-inch 1080p display (still no QHD here), USB Type-C connector for charging/connectivity, and the latest version of OxygenOS, which is still based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow instead of the current Android 7.0 Nougat.
Security

'Lurking Malice' Study Finds Malware Hiding In The Cloud (gatech.edu) 45

"Cloud repositories have become the hub of malicious web activities," warns one computer engineering professor. An anonymous reader quotes SC magazine: A recent study detected more than 600 cloud repositories hosting malware and other malicious activities on major cloud platforms including Amazon, Google, Groupon and thousands of other sites. Researchers...scanned more than 140,000 sites on 20 major cloud hosting services and found that as many as 10 percent of the repositories hosted by them had been compromised, according to the "Lurking Malice in the Cloud: Understanding and Detecting Cloud Repository as a Malicious Service" report [PDF]...

[According to the researchers] threat actors are taking advantage of the cloud because of how difficult it can be to scan the large amount of storage they provide... service providers which are bound by privacy commitments and ethical concerns tend to avoid inspecting their customer's repositories without proper consent and even when they are willing to inspect them it is difficult to spot malicious content.

Data Storage

Spotify Is Writing Massive Amounts of Junk Data To Storage Drives (arstechnica.com) 196

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: For almost five months -- possibly longer -- the Spotify music streaming app has been assaulting users' storage devices with enough data to potentially take years off their expected lifespans. Reports of tens or in some cases hundreds of gigabytes being written in an hour aren't uncommon, and occasionally the recorded amounts are measured in terabytes. The overload happens even when Spotify is idle and isn't storing any songs locally. The behavior poses an unnecessary burden on users' storage devices, particularly solid state drives, which come with a finite amount of write capacity. Continuously writing hundreds of gigabytes of needless data to a drive every day for months or years on end has the potential to cause an SSD to die years earlier than it otherwise would. And yet, Spotify apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux have engaged in this data assault since at least the middle of June, when multiple users reported the problem in the company's official support forum. Three Ars reporters who ran Spotify on Macs and PCs had no trouble reproducing the problem reported not only in the above-mentioned Spotify forum but also on Reddit, Hacker News, and elsewhere. Typically, the app wrote from 5 to 10 GB of data in less than an hour on Ars reporters' machines, even when the app was idle. Leaving Spotify running for periods longer than a day resulted in amounts as high as 700 GB. According to comments left in the Spotify forum in the past 24 hours, the bug has been fixed in version 1.0.42, which is in the process of being rolled out.
Microsoft

Russia To Block LinkedIn After Court Ruling on User Data (go.com) 44

Social network for professionals LinkedIn faces being blocked in Russia after a court ruled it broke a law on data storage. From a report on AP:Moscow city court spokeswoman Ulyana Solopova tells The Associated Press that the court rejected an appeal Thursday by LinkedIn against a district court's decision that the company had broken a law that requires personal data on Russian citizens to be stored on servers within Russia. Solopova says LinkedIn can appeal Thursday's ruling. The case was brought by Roskomnadzor, the Russian state telecommunications and media regulator.
Iphone

Apple Now Sells Refurbished iPhones (9to5mac.com) 26

In the past, Apple has only sold refurbished Macs, iPads and various niche devices on its refurb store. Now the company is officially selling refurbished iPhones, offering the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus in its refurb store. 9to5Mac reports: Apple has sort of sold refurbished iPhones before, but those sales were relegated to an eBay store front and never fully acknowledged by the company. This is the first time that the company has offered iPhones on its official refurb store online. Customers will find the iPhone 6s in 16 GB storage varieties for $449.00. The larger iPhone 6s Plus is being offered in two storage varieties: 16Gb and 64GB for $529 and $589, respectively. It seems that all colors are currently available, which includes Silver, Space Gray, Gold, and Rose Gold. In the end, users can expect to save up to 15% ($110) by going the refurbished route, and remember that these devices come with a full 1-year factory warranty, which makes refurb units a great idea for budget-conscious shoppers. It's also worth noting that all of Apple's official refurbished iPhones are unlocked and come SIM-free, plus they all include a brand new battery and outer shell. It's as close to a new iPhone as you'll get without actually buying one brand new.
Linux

Meet VoCore2 Lite, a $4 Coin-Sized, Open Source Linux Computer (zdnet.com) 106

An anonymous reader shares a report on ZDNet:Four bucks buys a lot of hardware these days, and nothing highlights this more than a project like the VoCore2 Lite. VoCore2 is an open source Linux computer and a fully-functional wireless router that is smaller than a coin. It can also act as a VPN gateway for a network, an AirPlay station to play lossless music, a private cloud to store your photos, video, and code, and much more. The Lite version of the VoCore2 features a 580MHz MT7688AN MediaTek system on chip (SoC), 64MB of DDR2 RAM, 8MB of NOR storage, and a single antenna slot for Wi-Fi that supports 150Mbps. Spend $12 and go for the full VoCore2 option and you get the same SoC, but you get 128MB of DDR2 RAM, 16MB of NOR storage, two antenna slots supporting 300Mbps, an on-board antenna, and PCIe 1.1 support.
Power

Researchers Make a High-Performance Battery From Junkyard Scraps (vanderbilt.edu) 117

Science_afficionado writes: A team of engineers and materials scientists at Vanderbilt University have discovered how to make high-performance batteries using scraps of metal from the junkyard and common household chemicals. The researchers believe their innovation could provide the large amounts of economical electrical storage required by the grid to handle alternative energy sources and may ultimately allow homeowners to build their own batteries and disconnect entirely from the grid. Vanderbilt University News reports: "To make such a future possible, Pint headed a research team that used scraps of steel and brass -- two of the most commonly discarded materials -- to create the world's first steel-brass battery that can store energy at levels comparable to lead-acid batteries while charging and discharging at rates comparable to ultra-fast charging supercapacitors. The research team, which consists of graduates and undergraduates in Vanderbilt's interdisciplinary materials science program and department of mechanical engineering, describe this achievement in a paper titled 'From the Junkyard to the Power Grid: Ambient Processing of Scrap Metals into Nanostructured Electrodes for Ultrafast Rechargeable Batteries' published online this week in the journal ACS Energy Letters. The secret to unlocking this performance is anodization, a common chemical treatment used to give aluminum a durable and decorative finish. When scraps of steel and brass are anodized using a common household chemical and residential electrical current, the researchers found that the metal surfaces are restructured into nanometer-sized networks of metal oxide that can store and release energy when reacting with a water-based liquid electrolyte. The team determined that these nanometer domains explain the fast charging behavior that they observed, as well as the battery's exceptional stability. They tested it for 5,000 consecutive charging cycles -- the equivalent of over 13 years of daily charging and discharging -- and found that it retained more than 90 percent of its capacity."

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