concealment sends this quote from a post about how the goals of many tech companies are at odds with what's good for consumers: "Since I've been out of the Silicon-Valley-centered tech industry, I've become increasingly convinced that it's morally bankrupt and essentially toxic to our society. Companies like Google and Facebook — in common with most public companies — have interests that are frequently in conflict with the well-being of — I was going to say their customers or their users, but I'll say 'people' in general, since it's wider than that. People who use their systems directly, people who don't — we're all affected by it, and although some of the outcomes are positive a disturbingly high number of them are negative: the erosion of privacy, of consumer rights, of the public domain and fair use, of meaningful connections between people and a sense of true community, of beauty and care taken in craftsmanship, of our very physical well-being. No amount of employee benefits or underfunded Google.org projects can counteract that. Over time, I've come to consider that this situation is irremediable, given our current capitalist system and all its inequalities. To fix it, we're going to need to work on social justice and rethinking how we live and work and relate to each other. Geek toys like self-driving cars and augmented reality sunglasses won't fix it. Social networks designed to identify you to corporations so they can sell you more stuff won't fix it. Better ad targeting or content matching algorithms definitely won't fix it."
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hypnosec writes "The Oak Ridge National Laboratory has unveiled a new supercomputer – Titan, which it claims is the world's most powerful supercomputer, capable of 20 petaflops of performance. The Cray XK7 supercomputer contains a total of 18,688 nodes and each node is based on a 16-core AMD Opteron 6274 processor and a Nvidia Tesla K20 Graphical Processing Unit (GPU). To be used for researching climate change and other data-intensive tasks, the supercomputer is equipped with more than 700 terabytes of memory."
An anonymous reader writes "University of British Columbia researchers have developed a wireless charging system for electric cars. It involves a spinning magnet beneath the parked vehicle which turns another magnet in the underside of the car. Charging takes four hours and is about 90% as efficient as plugging in. From the article: '"One of the major challenges of electric vehicles is the need to connect cords and sockets in often cramped conditions and in bad weather," says David Woodson, managing director of UBC Building Operations. "Since we began testing the system, the feedback from drivers has been overwhelmingly positive." Four wireless charging stations have been installed at UBC's building operations parking lot. Tests show the system is more than 90 per cent efficient compared to a cable charge. A full charge takes four hours and enables the vehicle to run throughout an eight-hour shift.'"
An anonymous reader writes "What would you do to 'go geek' if you had a major remodel on your hands? My wife and I are re-modeling my in-law's 3000 sq foot single-level house, and we're both very wired, tech-savvy individuals. We will both have offices, as well as TVs in the bedroom and dining room. My question to the community is: What would you do if you had 10-20,000 to spend for this kind of remodel project? What kind of hardware/firmware would you install? I'd love to have a digital 'command center' to run an LCD wall-calendar for the family, and be able to play my PS3 from anywhere in the house (ie, if everyone wants to watch Netflix while I'm in the middle of some Borderlands). What else have geeks done/planned to do? This is a test run for a much, much nicer house down the road, so don't be overly afraid of cost concerns for really great ideas. We will be taking most of the house down to studs, so don't factor demolition into costs. For culinary-minded geeks, I'd love any ideas you have to surprise my wife with cool kitchen gadgets or designs."
the_newsbeagle writes "Adrian Cheok, a professor of electrical engineering in Japan, wants to invent a "multisensory Internet" that will transmit not just information, but also experiences. To usher in this new age, he started by building a haptic system that enabled him to send a hug to a chicken via the Internet. Next came the 'huggy pajama' project, which allowed distant parents to send their kid a goodnight squeeze. Lately he's begun working on sending a taste over the internet with his 'digital lollypop' project."
itwbennett writes "From calcium in cameras and germanium in CPUs to selenium in solar cells. Here's a look at how every single element in the periodic table is used in common tech products. For example: Scandium is used in the bulbs in metal halide lamps, which produce a white light source with a high color rendering index that resembles natural sunlight. These lights are often appropriate for the taping of television shows. ... Yttrium helps CRT televisions produce a red color. When used in a compound, it collects energy and passes it to the phosphor. ... Niobium: Lithium niobate is used in mobile phone production, incorporated into surface acoustic wave filters that convert acoustic waves into electrical signals and make smartphone touchscreens work. SAW filters also provide cell signal enhancement, and are used to produce the Apple iPad 2."
walterbyrd sends this snippet from an article by Robert X. Cringely: "Big tech employers are constantly lobbying for increases in H-1B quotas citing their inability to find qualified US job applicants. Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates and other leaders from the IT industry have testified about this before Congress. Both major political parties embrace the H-1B program with varying levels of enthusiasm. Bill Gates is wrong. What he said to Congress may have been right for Microsoft but was wrong for America and can only lead to lower wages, lower employment, and a lower standard of living. This is a bigger deal than people understand: it's the rebirth of industrial labor relations circa 1920. Our ignorance about the H-1B visa program is being used to unfairly limit wages and steal — yes, steal — jobs from U.S. citizens."
An anonymous reader writes "Iran and its nuclear program seem to be getting all the headlines. Yet, Iran has found a way to respond to western cyber attacks such as Stuxnet, drone surveillance and targeted assassinations; they've decided to respond in kind. Iran has launched its own cyber attacks on U.S. banks via denial-of-service attacks. Iranian drones recently were used to spy on Israeli nuclear facilities. Cyberweapons were also used against Saudi oil facilities. The goal: to make sure the west, specifically the United States, knows that Iran does have the tools to strike back. While Iran does not have a world-class military like the United States, it does have the capabilities to cause damage if it wants to. With Iran taking to cyberspace and drones, it shows such technology is not just under the control of the U.S. Iran has been careful, though, not to escalate the conflict. The risk: what if the plan backfires and goes beyond its intended scope?"
An anonymous reader writes "TechCrunch has launched a project called CrunchGov, which aims to bring educated people together to work on tech-related government policy. 'It includes a political leaderboard that grades politicians based on how they vote on tech issues, a light legislative database of technology policy, and a public markup utility for crowdsourcing the best ideas on pending legislation.' They give politicians scores based on how their votes align with consensus on policy in the tech industry. 'A trial run of the public markup utility in Congress has already proven successful. When Rep. Issa opened his own alternative to SOPA for public markup, Project Madison participants came in droves with surprisingly specific legal suggestions. For instance, one savvy user noticed that current piracy legislation could mistakenly leave a person who owns a domain name legally responsible for the actions of the website administrator (the equivalent of holding a landlord responsible if his tenant was growing pot in the backyard). The suggestion was included in the updated bill before Congress, representing perhaps the first time that the public, en masse, could have a realistic shot at contributing to federal law purely based on the merit of their ideas.'"
another random user tips news that Nintendo will be selling its upcoming Wii U console at a loss in the hopes that spurring earlier adoption will work out for the company in the long run. This differs from the Wii, which made money from the start, but it's a similar strategy to those used with the Xbox 360 and PS3, which both lost money for their companies at release. "The Japanese firm's president revealed the news after the firm cut its profit forecast. It marks a change in the company's business strategy. The decision to abandon the prospect of immediate profits in order to maximize later earnings is part of a growing trend in the tech world. Nintendo might have altered course to take advantage of the fact that neither Microsoft nor Sony have announced their next-generation consoles yet. Its pursuit of the more casual gamer means it has also had to take account of the keenly priced tablet market which attracts a similar consumer."
the_newsbeagle writes "Bottom-dwelling fish that live near the wrecked Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant still show elevated radiation levels 19 months after the accident — and those radiation levels are not declining. Researcher Ken Buesseler says this indicates the seafloor sediments are contaminated (abstract), and will remain so for decades. He said, 'I was struck by how [the radiation levels] really haven’t changed over the last year. Since cesium doesn't bioaccumulate to a significant degree, and in fact is lost when fish move to a less contaminated area, this implies that the cesium source is still there'"
cylonlover writes "The United States Air Force (USAF) has released the results of last August's third test of the X-51a Waverider, which resulted in the crash of the unmanned scramjet demonstrator. At a press teleconference featuring the Program Manager for Air Force Research Laboratory, Charles Brink, it was confirmed that a malfunctioning fin was the cause of the crash. However, engineers are confident of correcting the fault in time for the fourth test flight scheduled for (Northern Hemisphere) late spring or early summer of next year."
smackay writes "Virginia Tech's Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory is building a humanoid robot designed for dangerous rescue missions as part of the new DARPA Robotics Challenge. Lab founder/director Dennis Hong calls it the 'greatest challenge of my career.' The robot's name: THOR" From the article: "The task is massive: The adult-sized robot must be designed to enter a vehicle, drive it, and then exit the vehicle, walk over rubble, clear objects blocking a door, open the door, and enter a building. The robot then must visually and audibly locate and shut off a leaking valve, connect a hose or connector, climb an industrial ladder and traverse an industrial walkway. The final and possibly most difficult task: Use a power tool and break through a concrete wall. All these tasks must be accomplished under a set time limit."
concealment writes "State-owned Baotou Steel Rare Earth (Group) Hi-tech Co. said in a statement released through the Shanghai Stock Exchange that it suspended production Tuesday to promote 'healthy development' of rare earths prices. It gave no indication when production would resume and phone calls to the company on Thursday were not answered. Beijing is tightening control over rare earths mining and exports to capture more of the profits that flow to Western makers of lightweight batteries and other products made of rare earths. China has about 30 percent of rare earths deposits but accounts for more than 90 percent of production. Beijing alarmed global manufacturers by imposing export quotas in 2009. It also is trying to force Chinese rare earths miners and processors to consolidate into a handful of government-controlled groups."
"Asus and other Microsoft OEM partners have also launched their own versions of Windows RT tablets that will compete with Microsoft's Surface. It's interesting to see the different design approaches being taken, some of which are similar to Android devices currently on the market. The Asus Vivo Tab RT, for example, is based on a 1.3GHz Tegra 3 SoC with 2GB of DDR3 memory, 32GB or 64GB of on board Flash storage, and looks a lot like their Transformer Prime 10-inch slate. The internal electronics are similar to Surface, with NVIDIA's Tegra 3 claiming the lion's share of Windows RT designs at launch. Microsoft's new touch-centric OS handles smoothly on the tablet and performance looks to be impressive, especially with respect to multitasking and application switching." There's also the newly-launched Samsung Galaxy Note II (Android-based, and a so called "phablet," rather than a tablet), the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga (an upcoming Windows RT tablet with a keyboard permanently attached), and the Archos 101 XS.