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Consumer Reports: New iPhones Not As Bendy As Believed

Sat, 09/27/2014 - 8:40am
An anonymous reader writes: Over the past several days, we've been hearing reports about some amount of users noticing that their brand new iPhone 6 Plus is bending in their pockets. The pictures and videos shown so far have kicked off an investigation, and Consumer Reports has done one of the more scientific tests so far. They found that the iPhone 6 Plus takes 90 pounds of pressure before it permanently deforms. The normal iPhone 6 took even less: 70 lbs. They tested other phones as well: HTC One (M8): 70 lbs, LG G3: 130 lbs, iPhone 5: 130 lbs, Samsung Galaxy Note 3: 150 lbs. The Verge also did a report on how Apple torture-tests its devices before shipping them. Apple's standard is about 55 lbs of pressure, though it does so thousands of times before looking for bends. One analysis suggests that Apple's testing procedure only puts pressure on the middle of the phone, which doesn't sufficiently evaluate the weakened area where holes have been created for volume buttons. Consumer Reports' test presses on the middle of the device as well.

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NVIDIA Begins Requiring Signed GPU Firmware Images

Sat, 09/27/2014 - 7:36am
An anonymous reader writes: In a blow to those working on open-source drivers, soft-mods for enhancing graphics cards, and the Chinese knock-offs of graphics cards, NVIDIA has begun signing and validating GPU firmware images. With the latest-generation Maxwell GPUs, not all engine functionality is being exposed unless the hardware detects the firmware image was signed by NVIDIA. This is a setback to the open-source Nouveau Linux graphics driver but they're working towards a solution where NVIDIA can provide signed, closed-source firmware images to the driver project for redistribution. Initially the lack of a signed firmware image will prevent some thermal-related bits from being programmed but with future hardware the list of requirements is expected to rise.

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Expedition 42 ISS Crew Embraces Douglas Adams

Sat, 09/27/2014 - 6:32am
SchrodingerZ writes: In November of this year, the 42nd Expedition to the International Space Station will launch, and the crew has decided to embrace their infamous number. NASA has released an image of the crew mimicking the movie poster for The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, a film released in 2005, based on a book with the same name by Douglas Adams. Commander Butch Wilmore stands in the center as protagonist Arthur Dent, flight engineer Elena Serova as hitchhiker Ford Prefect, flight engineer Alexander Samokutyayev as antagonist Humma Kavula, astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti as Trillian, and flight engineers Terry Virts and Anton Shkaplerov as two-headed galactic president Zaphod Beeblebrox. The robotic "Robonaut 2" also stands in the picture as Marvin the depressed android. Cristoforetti, ecstatic to be part of this mission stated, "Enjoy, don't panic and always know where your towel is!" Wilmore, Serova and Samokutyayev blasted off September 25th for Expedition 41, the rest of Expedition 42 will launch November 23rd.

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Japan's Mt. Ontake Erupts, Stranding Hundreds of Hikers

Sat, 09/27/2014 - 5:30am
An anonymous reader writes: Japan's second highest volcano, Mount Ontake, erupted on Saturday, sending thick clouds of ash into the air. More than 250 hikers were in the area, and the ash and rocks left seven unconscious, eight injured, and all of them stranded. In video footage from the mountain, you can see the thick clouds overtaking hikers, blocking out the sun and coating them with ash. There have been no reports of lava flows, but flights in the area were forced to divert their routes. (Another video shows the ash clouds from the sky.)

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Apple Yet To Push Patch For "Shellshock" Bug

Sat, 09/27/2014 - 4:25am
An anonymous reader writes "Open source operating systems vulnerable to the Shellshock bug have already pushed two patches to fix the vulnerability, but Apple has yet to issue one for Mac OS X. Ars Technica speculates that licensing issues may be giving Apple pause: "[T]he current [bash] version is released under the GNU Public License version 3 (GPLv3). Apple has avoided bundling GPLv3-licensed software because of its stricter license terms....Apple executives may feel they have to have their own developers make modifications to the bash code."" It's also worth noting that there are still flaws with the patches issued so far. Meanwhile, Fedora Magazine has published an easy-to-follow description of how Shellshock actually works. The Free Software Foundation has also issued a statement about Shellshock.

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Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit

Sat, 09/27/2014 - 3:06am
Lucas123 writes A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory predicts that distributed rooftop solar panel installations will grow from 0.2% market penetration today to 10% by 2022, during which time they're likely to cut utility profits from 8% to 41%. Using those same metrics, electricity rates for utility customers will grow only by as much as 2.7% over the next eight years. By comparison, the cost of electricity on average rose 3.1% from 2013 to 2014. The study was performed for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy under the U.S. Department of Energy. One of the main purposes of the study was to evaluate measures that could be pursued by utilities and regulators to reduce the financial impacts of distributed photovoltaics.

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Underwater Landslide May Have Doubled 2011 Japanese Tsunami

Sat, 09/27/2014 - 12:22am
sciencehabit writes An underwater landslide the size of the Paris may have triggered the worst of the tsunami that struck Japan on 11 March 2011, a new study claims. In the new study, researchers worked back from details of the ocean surface motion recorded by gauges along the Japanese shore on the day of the earthquake. Much as sound waves can help the ear pinpoint the source of a gunshot and whether a small pistol or a large cannon fired it, tsunami waves carry the imprint of the ocean floor disturbance that created them. The team concludes that during the earthquake a slab of sediment 20 km by 40 km and up to 2 km thick slid about 300 meters down the steep slope of Japan Trench, 'acting like a piston.'

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Marc Merlin's 2014 Burning Man Report For Tech Geeks

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 9:38pm
marcmerlin writes Haven't been to Burning Man, or missed this year's and would like a summary? Marc Merlin has posted a summary of this year with full GPS map, pictures from the air, and everything neatly categorized, with a track of his 127 miles of biking to visit as many camps as possible. Also, if you plan on going, check out the tips at the bottom of the page.

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New Graphene Research Promises Reliable Chip-Level Production

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 6:43pm
An anonymous reader writes "A research team from the University of Texas and a German nanotechnology company have published a paper which describes a major milestone for the future of graphene-based computing – the reliable production of wafer-scale graphene measuring between 100 and 300mm, suitable at last for integration with 'traditional' materials in computing. The research team was able to manufacture 25,000 graphene field-effect transistors from lab-produced graphene film on a polycrystalline copper base. Team research leader Deji Akinwande said: 'Our process is based on the scalable concept of growing graphene on copper-coated silicon substrates...Once we had developed a suitable method for growing high-quality graphene with negligible numbers of defects in small sample sizes, it was relatively straightforward for us to scale up.'"(Original, paywalled paper is at ACS Nano.)

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OpenMandriva Lx 2014.1 Released

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 4:53pm
jrepin writes OpenMandriva is proud to announce the release of OpenMandriva Lx 2014.1 distribution of the GNU/Linux operating system. Most of developers efforts were focused on reducing system boot up time and memory usage. This version brings Linux kernel 3.15.10 (with special patches for desktop system performance, responsiveness, and realtime capabilities), KDE Software Compilation 4.13.3, Xorg 1.15.1, Mesa 10.2.6, LibreOffice 4.3.1, Firefox 32, GNU bash with latest security fixes, and many other updated software packages.

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Infinite Crisis' Superhero Origins Story

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 3:40pm
An anonymous reader writes A new interview published this week looks at the creation of Infinite Crisis, one of the slew of Dota 2/League of Legends team multiplayer competitors currently under development. What makes this one stand out however is not only its use of DC Comics heroes like Batman and Wonder Woman, but the experience of the studio behind it, Turbine, in massively multiplayer online games and punishing abusive and toxic players, something League of Legends developer Riot has serious struggles with. Turbine was the studio behind the popular Asheron's Call, and is applying many of th same policing techniques it used in RPGs to the growing MOBA genre. Of course, they still have troubles with the inevitable: balancing Superman as a playable character. it's a challenge, Kerr admits, especially when you're having to nerf the Man of Steel as a result. "Yes, we redid Superman three times, because, and I know this is going to be a surprise, he was super overpowered," says Infinite Crisis creative director Cardell Kerr.

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Ask Slashdot: Swift Or Objective-C As New iOS Developer's 1st Language?

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 2:57pm
macs4all (973270) writes "I am an experienced C and Assembler Embedded Developer who is contemplating for the first time beginning an iOS App Project. Although I am well-versed in C, I have thus-far avoided C++, C# and Java, and have only briefly dabbled in Obj-C. Now that there are two possibilities for doing iOS Development, which would you suggest that I learn, at least at first? And is Swift even far-enough along to use as the basis for an entire app's development? My goal is the fastest and easiest way to market for this project; not to start a career as a mobile developer. Another thing that might influence the decision: If/when I decide to port my iOS App to Android (and/or Windows Phone), would either of the above be an easier port; or are, for example, Dalvick and the Android APIs different enough from Swift/Obj-C and CocoaTouch that any 'port' is essentially a re-write?"

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How 3D Printers Went Mainstream After Decades In Obscurity

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 2:15pm
An anonymous reader writes: By now, everyone knows the likes of MakerBot, Bre Pettis, and the gun-printing cage rattlers at Defense Distributed. But the tale of 3D-printing goes all the way back to the heady pre-Macintosh days of 1983, and a simple plastic cup holds the distinction of being the first-ever 3D-printed object. Garage entrepreneur Chuck Hull managed to print it using cobbled-together hardware that looked like something out of Waterworld, laying the fragile plastic framework for everything to come. From retrofitted hot glue guns, to a machine made specifically to print on-demand shot glasses, the last 30 years in 3D printing have been full of strange twists, odd characters and melted failures. And the possibilities are just beginning to emerge now that anyone can play.

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Nearly 2,000 Chicago Flights Canceled After Worker Sets Fire At Radar Center

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 1:33pm
SpzToid sends this news out of Illinois: Nearly 2,000 flights in Chicago have been canceled so far today as federal aviation officials slowly resume operations at O'Hare and Midway airports following a fire that was deliberately set at an FAA radar center, apparently by a disgruntled worker. The center handles high-altitude traffic across parts of the Midwest. Controllers there direct planes through the airspace and either hand off the air traffic to other facilities handling high-altitude traffic or direct the planes to terminal radar facilities, including one in Elgin, which in turn direct planes to and from airport towers.

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Sci-fi Predictions, True and False (Video 2)

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 12:50pm
You might want to go back to Video 1 before watching this one (or reading the transcript). This video is the second part of our recording of a panel discussion at the recent science fiction convention in Detroit. Panelists include writer and forensic science expert Jen Haeger; professor and generally fascinating guy Brian Gray; and expert in Aeronautical Management and 20-year veteran of the Air Force Douglas Johnson. In this video, they continue running down a list of science fiction predictions, both successful and unsuccessful, and evaluating how realistic or far-fetched each now seems. (Alternate Video Link)

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Acer Launches First 4K Panel With NVIDIA G-Sync Technology On Board

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 12:04pm
MojoKid writes: Save for a smattering of relatively small, 3K and 4K laptop displays, we haven't quite gotten to the same type of pixel density on the PC platform, that is available on today's high-end ultra-mobile devices. That said, the desktop display space has really heated up as of late and 4K panels have generated a large part of the buzz. Acer just launched the first 4K display with NVIDIA G-Sync technology on board. To put it simply, G-SYNC keeps a display and the output from an NVIDIA GPU in sync, regardless of frame rates or whether or not V-Sync is enabled. Instead of the monitor controlling the timing and refreshing at say 60Hz, the timing control is transferred to the GPU. The GPU scans a frame out to the monitor and the monitor doesn't update until a frame is done drawing, in lock-step with the GPU. This method completely eliminates tearing or frame stuttering associated with synchronization anomalies of standard panels. There are still some quirks with Windows and many applications that don't always scale properly on high-DPI displays, but the situation is getting better every day. If you're a gamer in the market for a 4K display, that's primed for gaming, the Acer XB280HK is a decent new option with this technology on board, though it does come at a bit of a premium at $799 versus standard 28-inch panels.

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The Secret Goldman Sachs Tapes

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 11:19am
An anonymous reader writes: The radio program "This American Life" has published an extraordinary investigative report on how the U.S. government regulators in charge of keeping an eye on the banks actually interact with powerful financial institutions (podcast here). Financial journalist Michael Lewis describes the report thus: "The Fed failed to regulate the banks because it did not encourage its employees to ask questions, to speak their minds or to point out problems. Just the opposite: The Fed encourages its employees to keep their heads down, to obey their managers and to appease the banks. That is, bank regulators failed to do their jobs properly not because they lacked the tools but because they were discouraged from using them. The report quotes Fed employees saying things like, 'until I know what my boss thinks I don't want to tell you,' and 'no one feels individually accountable for financial crisis mistakes because management is through consensus.'"

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Breakthrough In LED Construction Increases Efficiency By 57 Percent

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 10:37am
Zothecula writes: With LEDs being the preferred long-lasting, low-energy method for replacing less efficient forms of lighting, their uptake has dramatically increased over the past few years. However, despite their luminous outputs having increased steadily over that time, they still fall behind more conventional forms of lighting in terms of brightness. Researchers at Princeton University claim to have come up with a way to change all that by using nanotechnology to increase the output of organic LEDs by 57 percent.

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NASA Expands Commercial Space Program

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 9:55am
An anonymous reader writes: Just 10 days after NASA awarded multi-billion-dollar contracts to SpaceX and Boeing for future manned rocket launches, the agency announced today it is expanding its commercial space program to include contracts for delivery missions to the International Space Station. "Under the Commercial Resupply Services 2 RFP, NASA intends to award contracts with one or more companies for six or more flights per contract. As with current resupply flights, these missions would launch from U.S. spaceports, and the contracted services would include logistical and research cargo delivery and return to and from the space station through fiscal year 2020, with the option to purchase additional launches through 2024."

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How Did the 'Berlin Patient' Rid Himself of HIV?

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 9:10am
sciencehabit writes: Researchers are closer to unraveling the mystery of how Timothy Ray Brown, the only human cured of HIV, defeated the virus, according to a new study. Although the work doesn't provide a definitive answer, it rules out one possible explanation. [R]esearchers point to three different factors that could independently or in combination have rid Brown’s body of HIV. The first is the process of conditioning, in which doctors destroyed Brown’s own immune system with chemotherapy and whole body irradiation to prepare him for his bone marrow transplant. His oncologist, Gero Hütter, who was then with the Free University of Berlin, also took an extra step that he thought might not only cure the leukemia but also help rid Brown’s body of HIV. He found a bone marrow donor who had a rare mutation in a gene that cripples a key receptor on white blood cells the virus uses to establish an infection. (For years, researchers referred to Brown as "the Berlin patient.") The third possibility is his new immune system attacked remnants of his old one that held HIV-infected cells, a process known as graft versus host disease.

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