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Android

Which Android Devices Sacrifice Battery-Life For Performance? 100

Posted by Soulskill
from the definitely-mine dept.
MojoKid writes: A couple of weeks ago, Futuremark began handing out copies of PCMark for Android to members of the press, in an effort to get its leaderboards filled while the finishing touches were being put on the app. That might give you pause in that the results, generated today, are not going to be entirely accurate when the final version comes out, but that's not the case. Futuremark has encouraged publication of results generated with the benchmark. What makes PCMark for Android useful benchmark is that it not only tests for performance, but also for battery-life and performance combined. As such, you can easily figure out which devices sacrifice battery-life for performance and which ones have a good blend of both. The HTC One M8 really stands out, thanks to its nearly balanced performance/battery-life ratio. A result like that might make you think that neither value could be that great, but that's not the case at all. In fact, the battery-life rating on that phone places far beyond some of the other models, only falling short to the OnePlus One. And speaking of that phone, it becomes obvious with PCMark why it's so hyped-up of late; it not only delivers solid performance, it boasts great battery-life as well.
Mars

NASA's HI-SEAS Project Results Suggests a Women-Only Mars Crew 370

Posted by timothy
from the couple-of-jockeys-too dept.
globaljustin writes "Alan Drysdale, a systems analyst in advanced life support and a contractor with NASA concluded, "Small women haven't been demonstrated to be appreciably dumber than big women or big men, so there's no reason to choose larger people for a flight crew when it's brain power you want," says Drysdale. "The logical thing to do is to fly small women." Kate Greene, who wrote the linked article, took part in the first HI-SEAS experiment in Martian-style living, and has some compelling reasons for an all-women crew, energy efficiency chief among them: Week in and week out, the three female crew members expended less than half the calories of the three male crew members. Less than half! We were all exercising roughly the same amount—at least 45 minutes a day for five consecutive days a week—but our metabolic furnaces were calibrated in radically different ways. During one week, the most metabolically active male burned an average of 3,450 calories per day, while the least metabolically active female expended 1,475 calories per day. It was rare for a woman on crew to burn 2,000 calories in a day and common for male crew members to exceed 3,000. ... The calorie requirements of an astronaut matter significantly when planning a mission. The more food a person needs to maintain her weight on a long space journey, the more food should launch with her. The more food launched, the heavier the payload. The heavier the payload, the more fuel required to blast it into orbit and beyond. The more fuel required, the heavier the rocket becomes, which it in turn requires more fuel to launch.
Medicine

3-D Printed "Iron Man" Prosthetic Hands Now Available For Kids 64

Posted by timothy
from the in-time-for-hallowe'en-even dept.
PC World (drawing on an article from 3DPrint.com) notes that inventor Pat Starace has released his plans for a 3-D printable prosthetic hand designed to appeal both to kids who need it and their parents (who can't all afford the cost of conventional prostheses). The hand "has the familiar gold-and-crimson color scheme favored by Ol' Shellhead, and it's designed with housings for a working gyroscope, magnetometer, accelerometer, and other "cool sensors", as well as a battery housing and room for a low-power Bluetooth chip and charging port." It takes about 48 hours in printing time (and "a lot" of support material), but the result is inexpensive and functional.
Power

Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's Do Both, Smartly 217

Posted by Soulskill
from the until-we-find-some-dilithium dept.
TheRealHocusLocus writes: Disaster preppers have a saying, "two is one and one is none," which might also apply to 24x7 base load energy sources that could sustain us beyond the age of fossil fuel. I too was happy to see Skunkworks' Feb 2013 announcement and the recent "we're still making progress" reminder. I was moved by the reaction on Slashdot: a groundswell of "Finally!" and "We're saved!" However, fusion doesn't need to be the only solution, and it's not entirely without drawbacks.

All nuclear reactors will generate waste via activation as the materials of which they are constructed erode and become unstable under high neutron flux. I'm not pointing this out because I think it's a big deal — a few fusion advocates disingenuously tend to sell the process as if it were "100% clean." A low volume of non-recyclable waste from fusion reactors that is walk-away safe in ~100 years is doable. Let's do it. And likewise, the best comparable waste profile for fission is a two-fluid LFTR, a low volume of waste that is walk-away safe in ~300 years. Let's do it.

Why pursue both, with at least the same level of urgency? Because both could carry us indefinitely. LFTR is less complicated in theory and practice. It is closer to market. There is plenty of cross-over: LFTR's materials challenges and heat engine interface — and the necessity for waste management — are the same as they will be for commercial-scale fusion reactors. To get up to speed please see the 2006 fusion lecture by Dr. Robert Bussard on the Wiffle ball 6 plasma containment, likely the precursor to the Skunkworks approach. And see Thorium Remix 2011 which presents the case for LFTR.
Intel

Android On Intel x86 Tablet Performance Explored: Things Are Improving 97

Posted by Soulskill
from the won't-run-crysis dept.
MojoKid writes: For the past few years, Intel has promised that its various low-power Atom-based processors would usher in a wave of low-cost Android and Windows mobile products that could compete with ARM-based solutions. And for years, we've seen no more than a trickle of hardware, often with limited availability. Now, that's finally beginning to change. Intel's Bay Trail and Merrifield SoCs are starting to show up more in full-featured, sub-$200 devices from major brands. One of the most interesting questions for would-be x86 buyers in the Android tablet space is whether to go with a Merrifield or Bay Trail Atom-based device. Merrifield is a dual-core chip without Hyper-Threading. Bay Trail is a quad-core variant and a graphics engine derived from Intel's Ivy Bridge Core series CPUs. That GPU is the other significant difference between the two SoCs. With Bay Trail, Intel is still employing their own graphics solution, while Merrifield pairs a dual-core CPU with a PowerVR G6400 graphics core. So, what's the experience of using a tablet running Android on x86 like these days? Pretty much like using an ARM-based Android tablet currently, and surprisingly good for any tablet in the $199 or less bracket. In fact, some of the low cost Intel/Android solutions out there currently from the likes of Acer, Dell, Asus, and Lenovo, all compete performance-wise pretty well versus the current generation of mainstream ARM-based Android tablets.
Government

Journalists Route Around White House Press Office 110

Posted by samzenpus
from the indirect-route dept.
Tailhook writes Pool reports written by White House correspondents are distributed to news organizations via the White House Press Office. Reporters have alleged that the Obama White House exploits its role as distributor to "demand changes in pool reports" and has used this power to "steer coverage in a more favorable direction." Now a group of 90 print journalists has begun privately distributing their work through Google Groups, independent of the Press Office. Their intent is to "create an independent pool-reporting system for print and online recipients."
Television

HBO To Offer Online Streaming Without TV Subscription 139

Posted by samzenpus
from the cutting-the-cord dept.
An anonymous reader writes By now, everyone not living in total isolation knows that HBO has announced plans to offer content streaming in 2015 with no TV subscription requirements. Many wonder what took HBO so long to make this transition. Some speculate that the growing unpopularity of ISP giants has shifted bargaining power in HBO's favor. Others say that it's purely maths; there are more cord-cutters and more people willing to shell out money for specific content, as evidenced by Netflix surpassing HBO in earnings this year "despite Netflix having a smaller customer base". Whatever the reason, all are expecting this development to induce "more content providers to make their shows more readily available online".
Power

Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project 564

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-don't-have-long-to-invent-Mr.-Fusion dept.
Lockheed Martin claims it has made a significant breakthrough in the creation of nuclear fusion reactors. The company says it has proved the feasibility of building a 100MW reactor measuring only 7 feet by 10 feet. They say the design can be built and tested within a year, and they expect an operational reactor within a decade. The project is coming out of stealth mode now to seek partners within academia, government, and industry. "Lockheed sees the project as part of a comprehensive approach to solving global energy and climate change problems. Compact nuclear fusion would also produce far less waste than coal-powered plants, and future reactors could eliminate radioactive waste completely, the company said."
Power

Battery Breakthrough: Researchers Claim 70% Charge In 2 Minutes, 20-Year Life 395

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-only-works-for-left-handed-people dept.
New submitter chaosdivine69 writes: According to Scientists at Nanyang Technology University (NTU), they have developed ultra-fast charging batteries that can be recharged up to 70 per cent in only two minutes and have a 20-year lifespan (10,000 charges). The impact of this is potentially a game changer for a lot of industries reliant on lithium ion batteries. In the car industry, for example, consumers would save on costs for battery replacement and manufacturers would save on material construction (the researchers are using a nanotube structure of Titanium dioxide, which is an abundant, cheap, and safe material found in soil). Titanium dioxide is commonly used as a food additive or in sunscreen lotions to absorb harmful ultraviolet rays. It is believed that charging an electric car can be done in as little as 5 minutes, making it comparable to filling up a tank of gasoline.
Power

Can the Sun Realistically Power Datacenters? 236

Posted by Soulskill
from the nobody-needs-wyoming-for-anything-important dept.
1sockchuck writes: A massive solar array in central New Jersey provides the daytime power for a server farm delivering online financial services for McGraw Hill. The 50-acre field of photovoltaic solar panels symbolizes a new phase in the use of renewable energy in data centers. Massive arrays can now provide tens of megawatts of solar power for companies (including Apple) that can afford the land and the expense. But some data center thought leaders argue that these huge fields are more about marketing than genuinely finding the best approach to a greener cloud.
Transportation

Navy Tests Unpowered Exoskeleton 79

Posted by timothy
from the not-for-body-surfing dept.
gurps_npc (621217) writes "CNN has a very interesting article about an unpowered exoskeleton system called Fortis. Unlike the more famous TALOS system, this exoskeleton uses zero electricity, so it does not need batteries or an extension cord. Power requirements have always been the problem with powered exoskeletons, as batteries are heavy. The system is made out of lightweight aluminum and heavy tools connect directly to it. The weight of the tools is supported by the exoskeleton, so your arms, back and legs don't have to carry it. You only need to use muscle to move the tool, not simply carry it. The exoskeleton does not make you stronger. Instead it effectively increases your stamina by relieving fatigue caused by carrying the heavy tool.
Power

Wind Power Is Cheaper Than Coal, Leaked Report Shows 608

Posted by Soulskill
from the tilting-at-coalmills dept.
merbs writes: A leaked report shows wind is the cheapest energy source in Europe, beating the presumably dirt-cheap coal and gas by a mile. Conventional wisdom holds that clean energy is more expensive than its fossil-fueled counterparts. Yet cost comparisons show that renewable energy sources are often cheaper than their carbon-heavy competition. The report (PDF) demonstrates that if you were to take into account mining, pollution, and adverse health impacts of coal and gas, wind power would be the cheapest source of energy.
Power

Smart Battery Tells You When It's About To Explode 97

Posted by samzenpus
from the danger-will-robinson! dept.
sciencehabit writes Material scientists have found a clever way to alert users of damaged batteries before any hazard occurs. A typical lithium-ion cell consists of a lithium oxide cathode and a graphite anode, separated by a thin, porous polymer sheet that allows ions to travel between the electrodes. When the cell is overcharged, microscopic chains of lithium, called "dendrites," sprout from the anode and pierce through the polymer separator until they touch the cathode. An electrical current passing through the dendrites to the cathode can short-circuit the cell, which causes overheating and, in some cases, fire. Attempts to stop dendrite formation have met with limited success, so the researchers tried something different. They built a "smart" separator by sandwiching a 50-nanometer thin copper layer between two polymer sheets and connecting the copper layer to a third electrode for voltage measurement. When the dendrites reach the separator, the voltage between the anode and the copper layer drops to zero, alerting users that they should change the damaged battery while it is still operating safely—disaster averted.
Power

Fusion Reactor Concept Could Be Cheaper Than Coal 315

Posted by samzenpus
from the some-day-soon dept.
vinces99 writes Fusion energy almost sounds too good to be true – zero greenhouse gas emissions, no long-lived radioactive waste, a nearly unlimited fuel supply. Perhaps the biggest roadblock to adopting fusion energy is that the economics haven't penciled out. Fusion power designs aren't cheap enough to outperform systems that use fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. University of Washington engineers hope to change that. They have designed a concept for a fusion reactor that, when scaled up to the size of a large electrical power plant, would rival costs for a new coal-fired plant with similar electrical output. The team published its reactor design and cost-analysis findings last spring and will present results Oct. 17 at the International Atomic Energy Agency's Fusion Energy Conference in St. Petersburg, Russia.
AMD

AMD Building New GPU Linux Kernel Driver To Unify With Catalyst Driver 56

Posted by Soulskill
from the playing-well-with-others dept.
An anonymous reader writes: AMD is moving forward with their plans to develop a new open-source Linux driver model for their Radeon and FirePro graphics processors. Their unified Linux driver model is moving forward, albeit slightly different compared to what was planned early this year. They're now developing a new "AMDGPU" kernel driver to power both the open and closed-source graphics components. This new driver model will also only apply to future generations of AMD GPUs. Catalyst is not being open-sourced, but will be a self-contained user-space blob, and the DRM/libdrm/DDX components will be open-source and shared. This new model is more open-source friendly, places greater emphasis on their mainline kernel driver, and should help Catalyst support Mir and Wayland.
Japan

2014 Nobel Prize In Physics Awarded To the Inventors of the Blue LED 243

Posted by timothy
from the changing-the-color-of-server-rooms-everywhere dept.
grouchomarxist writes with word that "The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura, the inventors of the blue LED." From the organization's press release: When Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura produced bright blue light beams from their semi-conductors in the early 1990s, they triggered a fundamental transformation of lighting technology. Red and green diodes had been around for a long time but without blue light, white lamps could not be created. Despite considerable efforts, both in the scientific community and in industry, the blue LED had remained a challenge for three decades. They succeeded where everyone else had failed. Akasaki worked together with Amano at the University of Nagoya, while Nakamura was employed at Nichia Chemicals, a small company in Tokushima. Their inventions were revolutionary. Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps. White LED lamps emit a bright white light, are long-lasting and energy-efficient. They are constantly improved, getting more efficient with higher luminous flux (measured in lumen) per unit electrical input power (measured in watt). The most recent record is just over 300 lm/W, which can be compared to 16 for regular light bulbs and close to 70 for fluorescent lamps. As about one fourth of world electricity consumption is used for lighting purposes, the LEDs contribute to saving the Earth's resources. Materials consumption is also diminished as LEDs last up to 100,000 hours, compared to 1,000 for incandescent bulbs and 10,000 hours for fluorescent lights. The LED lamp holds great promise for increasing the quality of life for over 1.5 billion people around the world who lack access to electricity grids: due to low power requirements it can be powered by cheap local solar power.
United Kingdom

Brits Must Trade Digital Freedoms For Safety, Says Crime Agency Boss 264

Posted by Soulskill
from the those-who-trade-liberty-for-security dept.
bestweasel writes: The Guardian has an interview with Keith Bristow, the head of the National Crime Agency, (sometimes called Britain's FBI, apparently) in which he says, "Britons must accept a greater loss of digital freedoms in return for greater safety from serious criminals and terrorists." He also mentions pedophiles, of course. The article seems to cover just the highlights of the interview, but in another quote he says that for "policing by consent," the consent is "expressed through legislation." While this might sound reassuring, it's coupled with the Home Secretary's call last week for greater mass surveillance powers. Presumably whoever wins power in the elections next year will claim that this gives them the required consent (that's democracy, folks!) and pass the laws.
Earth

Living On a Carbon Budget: The End of Recreation As We Know It? 652

Posted by samzenpus
from the cutting-down dept.
Lasrick writes Dawn Stover looks at unrealistic expectations and the distribution of limited energy resources: 'This is a question that should move from the fringes of the energy debate to its very heart. Economists and energy experts shy away from issues of equity and morality, but climate change and environmental justice are inseparable: It's impossible to talk intelligently about climate without discussing how to distribute limited energy resources. It's highly unlikely that the world can safely produce almost five times as much electricity by 2035 as it does now—which is what it would take to provide everyone with a circa-2010 American standard of living, according to a calculation by University of Colorado environmental studies professor Roger Pielke Jr. The sooner policy makers accept this reality, the sooner they can get to work on a global solution that meets everyone's needs. First, though, they need to understand the difference between needs and wants.' Not something most people even think about.
Medicine

Professor Kevin Fu Answers Your Questions About Medical Device Security 21

Posted by samzenpus
from the listen-up dept.
Almost a year ago you had a chance to ask professor Kevin Fu about medical device security. A number of events (including the collapse of his house) conspired to delay the answering of those questions. Professor Fu has finally found respite from calamity, coincidentally at a time when the FDA has issued guidance on the security of medical devices. Below you'll find his answers to your old but not forgotten questions.
Security

DARPA Delving Into the Black Art of Super Secure Software Obfuscation 124

Posted by samzenpus
from the lock-it-down dept.
coondoggie writes Given enough computer power, desire, brains, and luck, the security of most systems can be broken. But there are cryptographic and algorithmic security techniques, ideas and concepts out there that add a level of algorithmic mystification that could be built into programs that would make them close to unbreakable. That's what the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants for a new program called "Safeware." From DARPA: “The goal of the SafeWare research effort is to drive fundamental advances in the theory of program obfuscation and to develop highly efficient and widely applicable program obfuscation methods with mathematically proven security properties.”

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