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Government

Notel Media Player Helps North Koreans Skirt Censorship 31

Posted by timothy
from the one-day-will-be-on-ebay.nk dept.
An anonymous reader writes A small portable media device, costing roughly $50, is allowing North Koreans to access and view foreign media despite tight government censorship, according to a Reuters report. The 'Notel', a mashup of notebook and television, is being described as a symbol of change in the repressed society. Used to watch DVDs and shared content from USB sticks and SD cards, the media player can be easily concealed and transported among families and friends. According to correspondents in the region, as many as half of all urban North Korean households have a notel and are swapping a broad range of banned media such as soaps and TV dramas from South Korea and China, Hollywood blockbusters, and news clips — all of which is strictly forbidden by Pyongyang law.
Hardware

Toshiba Announces 3D Flash With 48 Layers 21

Posted by Soulskill
from the going-to-need-an-elevator dept.
Lucas123 writes: Admitting it has bumped up against a 15 nanometer process wall, Toshiba announced it's focusing its efforts on three dimensional NAND using its Bit Cost Scalable technology (PDF) in order to increase capacity. It has dedicated a Japanese fab plant to it and developed 48-level 3D NAND, which bumps density up 33% over previous 3D NAND flash. The new 3D NAND will be able to store 128Gb of data per chip (16GB). Samsung has been mass producing 32-layer, triple-level cell (TLC) 3D NAND since last October and has incorporated it into some of its least expensive SSDs. Yesterday, Micron and Intel announced their own 32-layer 3D TLC NAND, which they claimed will lead to 10TB SSDs. While Toshiba's 3D NAND is multi-level cell (meaning it stores two bits per transistor versus three), the company does plan on developing a TLC version. Toshiba said it's not abandoning 15nm floating gate flash, but it will focus those efforts on lower capacity applications.
Displays

Behind the Scenes At a Quantum Dot Factory 30

Posted by Soulskill
from the harvesting-the-dot-crop dept.
Tekla Perry writes: In a nondescript office complex in Milpitas, Calif., Nanosys is making enough quantum dots to populate 6 million 60-inch television screens annually. "The process goes on in what looks like a microbrewery. In about half a dozen large metal tanks ... Nanosys combines cadmium and selenium and adjusts the temperature, concentration, and catalysts added to force these precursors to combine into stable crystals of cadmium selenide. Then, by readjusting the conditions, the system stops the formation of crystals and triggers the beginning of crystal growth. A computer controls the process according to a programmed “recipe;” staff members monitor the growth of the crystals by shining light on them and measuring the wavelength of the fluorescence; the smallest crystals don’t fluoresce at all, then, as the crystals get larger, the wavelength changes. Nanosys stops the process when the fluoresced light hits the target wavelength, which varies depending on what particular display industry standard that the batch of film is designed to meet."
Businesses

Amazon Announces Unlimited Cloud Storage Plans 117

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-the-clouds dept.
An anonymous reader sends word that Amazon is now offering unlimited cloud storage plans to compete with Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive. "Last year, Amazon gave a boost to its Prime members when it launched a free, unlimited photo storage for them on Cloud Drive. Today, the company is expanding that service as a paid offering to cover other kinds of content, and to users outside of its loyalty program. Unlimited Cloud Storage will let users get either unlimited photo storage or "unlimited everything" — covering all kinds of media from videos and music through to PDF documents — respectively for $11.99 or $59.99 per year."
Biotech

Robobug: Scientists Clad Bacterium With Graphene To Make a Working Cytobot 40

Posted by samzenpus
from the cyborg-virus dept.
Zothecula writes By cladding a living cell with graphene quantum dots, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) claim to have created a nanoscale biomicrorobot (or cytobot) that responds electrically to changes in its environment. This work promises to lay the foundations for future generations of bio-derived nanobots, biomicrorobotic-mechanisms, and micromechanical actuation for a wide range of applications. "UIC researchers created an electromechanical device — a humidity sensor — on a bacterial spore. They call it NERD, for Nano-Electro-Robotic Device. The report is online at Scientific Reports, a Nature open access journal."
Data Storage

Micron and Intel Announce 3D NAND Flash Co-Development To Push SSDs Past 10TB 87

Posted by timothy
from the 10TB-can-hold-quite-a-few-home-movies dept.
MojoKid writes Both Micron and Intel noted in a release today that traditional planar NAND flash memory is reaching a dead-end, and as such, have been working together on 3D memory technology that could open the floodgates for high densities and faster speeds. Not all 3D memory is alike, however. This joint development effort resulted in a "floating gate cell" being used, something not uncommon for standard flash, but a first for 3D. Ultimately, this 3D NAND is composed of flash cells stacked 32 high, resulting in 256Gb MLC and 384Gb TLC die that fit inside of a standard package. That gives us 48GB per die, and up to 750GB in a single package. Other benefits include faster performance, reduced cost, and technologies that help extend the life of the memory.
Input Devices

What Makes the Perfect Gaming Mouse? 196

Posted by timothy
from the give-it-a-lot-of-cocaine dept.
An anonymous reader writes A new article looks at the advanced technology that goes into many gaming mice favoured by professional gamers, from dedicated processors to custom weights for the sake of ergonomics, discussing the developments with designers at three top peripheral companies: Logitech, Razer and SteelSeries. Surprisingly, some factors that were once thought to have reached the limit of their usefulness, such as DPI sensitivity, are becoming more important again as screens get bigger and we make the move to 4K resolution. ... "With the rise of higher resolution screens, especially looking into 4K multi monitor systems and beyond, DPI might become an important factor in the future again, so we are not ruling out changes in the maximum tracking rate," says Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan.
Businesses

Amazon Robot Contest May Accelerate Warehouse Automation 56

Posted by samzenpus
from the goodbye-minimum-wage-worker dept.
moon_unit2 writes Amazon is organizing an event to spur the development of more nimble-fingered product-packing robots. Participating teams will earn points by locating products sitting somewhere on a stack of shelves, retrieving them safely, and then packing them into cardboard shipping boxes. Robots that accidentally crush a cookie or drop a toy will have points deducted. The contest is already driving new research on robot vision and manipulation, and it may offer a way to judge progress made in the past few years in machine intelligence and dexterity. Robots capable of advanced manipulation could eventually take on many simple jobs that are still done by hand.
Power

First Nuclear Power Plant Planned In Jordan 140

Posted by samzenpus
from the power-up dept.
jones_supa writes Jordan has signed an agreement with Russia's state-owned nuclear power giant Rosatom, that sets the legal basis for building the kingdom's first nuclear power plant with a total capacity of 2,000 MW. The agreement is worth $10 billion and it envisages the construction of a two-unit power plant at Amra in the north of the kingdom by 2022. The deal provides for a feasibility study, site evaluation process and an environmental impact assessment. Currently Jordan imports nearly 98% of its energy from oil products and crude and is struggling to meet electricity demand, which is growing by more than 7% annually due to a rising population and industrial expansion. The kingdom hopes that eventually nuclear power could provide almost 40% of its total electricity generating capacity.
AI

Do Robots Need Behavioral 'Laws' For Interacting With Other Robots? 129

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-let-your-quake-3-bots-duel dept.
siddesu writes: Asimov's three laws of robotics don't say anything about how robots should treat each other. The common fear is robots will turn against humans. But what happens if we don't build systems to keep them from conflicting with each other? The article argues, "Scientists, philosophers, funders and policy-makers should go a stage further and consider robot–robot and AI–AI interactions (AIonAI). Together, they should develop a proposal for an international charter for AIs, equivalent to that of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This could help to steer research and development into morally considerate robotic and AI engineering. National and international technological policies should introduce AIonAI concepts into current programs aimed at developing safe AIs."
Power

Energy Company Trials Computer Servers To Heat Homes 160

Posted by Soulskill
from the turn-the-thermostat-to-'crysis' dept.
New submitter MarcAuslander sends this Associated Press report: Eneco, a Dutch-based energy company with more than 2 million customers, said Tuesday it is installing 'e-Radiators' — computer servers that generate heat while crunching numbers — in five homes across the Netherlands in a trial to see if their warmth could be a commercially viable alternative for traditional radiators. The technology is the brainchild of the Dutch startup company Nerdalize, whose founders claim to have developed the idea after huddling near a laptop to keep warm after their home's thermostat broke and jokingly suggesting buying 100 laptops. Nerdalize says its e-Radiators offer companies or research institutes a cheaper alternative to housing servers in data centers. And because Nerdalize foots the power bill for the radiators, Eneco customers get the warmth they generate for free. The companies said the environment wins, too, because energy is effectively used twice in the new system - to power the servers and to heat rooms.
Power

Elon Musk's SolarCity Offering To Build Cities, Businesses Their Own Grids 184

Posted by timothy
from the low-voltage-lighting-helps-too dept.
Lucas123 writes Rooftop solar distributor SolarCity announced a new service where it will build a centrally-controllable power grid for cities, business campuses and even islands. Marketing its GridLogic service by calling attention to the recent uptick in natural disasters and the extended power outages that resulted from them, SolarCity said its "microgrids" are fully independent power infrastructures fed by solar panels with lithium-ion backup batteries (courtesy of Tesla). SolarCity claims its GridLogic program can provide electricity to communities and businesses for less than they pay for utility power and the facilities can still be connected to their area's utility power grid as an added backup.
Hardware Hacking

Hack Air-Gapped Computers Using Heat 122

Posted by timothy
from the oh-baby-you're-so-communicative dept.
An anonymous reader writes Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers have discovered a new method to breach air-gapped computer systems called "BitWhisper," which enables two-way communications between adjacent, unconnected PC computers using heat. BitWhisper bridges the air-gap between the two computers, approximately 15 inches apart that are infected with malware by using their heat emissions and built-in thermal sensors to communicate. It establishes a covert, bi-directional channel by emitting heat from one PC to the other in a controlled manner. Also at Wired.
Robotics

Bring On the Boring Robots 112

Posted by Soulskill
from the skynet-lulling-us-into-a-false-sense-of-security dept.
malachiorion writes: After a successful 6-month pilot, Savioke's 'butler bots' are heading to hotels around the country. These are not sexy, scary, or even technically impressive machines. But they were useful enough, over the course of their 2,000 or so deliveries, to warrant a redesign, and a larger deployment starting in April. Savioke's CEO had some interesting things to say about the pilot, including the fact that some 95 percent of guests gave the robot a 5-star review, and only the drunks seemed to take issue with it. Plus, as you might expect, everyone seemed to want to take a damn selfie with it. But as small as the stakes might appear, highly specialized bots like this one, which can only do one thing (in this case, bring up to 10 pounds of stuff from the lobby to someone's door) are a better glimpse of our future than any talk of hyper-competent humanoids or similarly versatile machines.
Portables (Apple)

Apple Doubles MacBook Pro R/W Performance 204

Posted by samzenpus
from the greased-lightning dept.
Lucas123 writes Benchmark tests performed on the 2015 MacBook Pro revealed it does have twice the read/write performance as the mid-2014 model. Tests performed with the Blackmagic benchmark tool revealed read/write speeds of more than 1,300MBps/1,400MBps, respectively. So what's changed? The new MacBook Pro does have a faster Intel dual-core i7 2.9GHz processor and 1866MHz LPDDR3) RAM, but the real performance gain is in the latest PCIe M.2 flash module. The 2014 model used a PCIe 2.0 x2 card and the 2015 model uses a PCIe 3.0 x4 (four I/O lanes) card. Twice the lanes, twice the speed. While Apple uses a proprietary flash card made by Samsung, Intel, Micron and SanDisk are all working on similar technology, so it's likely to soon wind up in high-end PCs.
Power

Costa Rica Goes 75 Days Powering Itself Using Only Renewable Energy 316

Posted by samzenpus
from the cleaning-things-up dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news about an impressive renewable energy accomplishment in Costa Rica. Costa Rica has achieved a clean energy milestone by using 100 per cent renewable energy for a record 75 days in a row. The feat was achieved thanks to heavy rainfall, which powered four hydroelectric plants in the first three months of the year, the state-run Costa Rican Electricity Institute said. No fossil fuels have been burnt to generate electricity since December 2014, in the state which is renowned for its clean energy policies."
AMD

Gaming On Linux With Newest AMD Catalyst Driver Remains Slow 178

Posted by samzenpus
from the molasses-in-the-winter dept.
An anonymous reader writes The AMD Catalyst binary graphics driver has made a lot of improvements over the years, but it seems that NVIDIA is still leading in the Linux game with their shared cross-platform driver. Tests done by Phoronix of the Catalyst 15.3 Linux Beta found on Ubuntu 15.04 shows that NVIDIA continues leading over AMD Catalyst with several different GPUs on BioShock Infinite, a game finally released for Linux last week. With BioShock Infinite on Linux, years old mid-range GeForce GPUs were clobbering the high-end Radeon R9 290 and other recent AMD GPUs tested. The poor showing wasn't limited to BS:I though as the Metro Redux games were re-tested too on the new drivers and found the NVIDIA graphics still ran significantly faster and certainly a different story than under Windows.
Robotics

ATRIAS Bipedal Robot Can Take a Beating and Keep Walking 31

Posted by timothy
from the whaddya-tell-a-robot-with-two-black-eyes? dept.
Zothecula writes The great tradition of designing robots inspired by the many beautiful forms of locomotion seen in the animal kingdom likely predates robotics itself, arguably stretching all the way back to Michelangelo's time. Standing on the shoulders of such giants is ATRIAS, a series of human-sized bipedal robots that remind us of other two-legged creatures like the ostrich or emu. It must be a great tension-reliever in the robotics lab to have a robot you can literally kick without knocking it off balance.
Power

France Decrees New Rooftops Must Be Covered In Plants Or Solar Panels 247

Posted by Soulskill
from the or-at-least-fine-pastries dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A law approved in France Thursday now requires all new rooftops in commercial zones to be covered in plants or solar panels. "Green roofs have an isolating effect, helping reduce the amount of energy needed to heat a building in winter and cool it in summer. They also retain rainwater, thus helping reduce problems with runoff, while favoring biodiversity and giving birds a place to nest in the urban jungle, ecologists say." The law was actually watered down from its original version — businesses only have to cover part of their roof. In other solar power news, reader SpzToid notes that despite earlier worries, the European power grid handled the solar eclipse just fine
Transportation

Musk Says Drivers May Become Obsolete, Announces Juice-Saving Upgrades 341

Posted by timothy
from the dog's-not-that-shaggy dept.
Lucas123 (935744) writes During a discussion at a Nvidia conference, Elon Musk predicted that in the future, consumers will not be allowed to drive cars because it will be considered too dangerous. [Note: compare Lyft CEO Logan Green's opposite view] 'You can't have a person driving a two-ton death machine,' he said. Others agree. Thilo Koslowski, a vice president at Gartner, said instead of laws dictating drivers must cede control to their car's computer, we may someday someday just pass signs requiring drivers to activate auto-drive functionality for certain particularly treacherous stretches of roadway. Kowlowski said fully autonomous vehicles won't be ubiquitous for another 10 to 15 years, but the government could spur that on by offering tax incentives as it does today with all-electric vehicles and hybrids. Related news: it may not be fully autonomous driving, but Tesla S drivers are promised an upgrade a few months from now that gives a taste, with the addition of automatic steering features. And though it's perhaps anti-climactic as a solution to "ending range anxiety," Musk also announced today that Teslas will get in the next two weeks a software upgrade that will greatly upgrade the cars' routing software, integrating "near-realtime" lists of available supercharger stations, and keeping drivers apprised of whether one is within range.