An anonymous reader writes "Ars has an extensive review of the newly-released BlackBerry 10 operating system. Since it's such a late entry into the market, the tech community has been eyeballing the new operating system with trepidation — would all that time go to waste with a poor offering, or would BlackBerry 10 be a reasonable alternative to iOS and Android? Well, it seems BlackBerry (the company formerly known as RIM) actually put the time to good use. The review finds most of the UI innovations to actually be.. innovative. "BlackBerry took a lot of time to see what the competition is doing, and then it worked to refine its operating system. It essentially had an excellent cheat sheet, filled with everything that has worked wonderfully and all the things that have bombed. That said, BlackBerry still has to mold its product for its two huge core audiences: the business-oriented multi-tasker and the developing smartphone markets. To that end, it has included all of the essential features and apps to appeal to both of those parties. The corporate user has his or her share of content to watch on the train ride to work, games and apps to help keep busy when not entrenched in a meeting, and the perfect Hub for messaging (not to mention the literal split between work and personal environments)." However, the review also notes that the system is not really designed to make people drop their Android or iOS devices, so uptake is going to be slow at best. The question for the platform's success (and the company's) is no longer 'Is it any good? but 'Is it too late?'" There's also a review of the z10 smartphone itself.
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Nerval's Lobster writes "The man who designed the world's most energy-efficient supercomputer in 2011 has taken on a new task: improving how robo-bugs fly. Wu-chun Feng, an associate professor of computer science in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, previously built Green Destiny, a 240-node supercomputer that consumed 3.2 kilowatts of power—the equivalent of a couple of hair dryers. That was before the Green500, a list that Feng and his team began compiling in 2005, which ranks the world's fastest supercomputers by performance per watt. On Feb. 5, the Air Force's Office of Scientific Research announced it had awarded Feng $3.5 million over three years, plus an option to add $2.5 million funding over an additional two years. The contract's goal: speed up how quickly a supercomputer can simulate the computational fluid dynamics of micro-air vehicles (MAVs), or unmanned aerial vehicles. MAVs can be as small as about five inches, with an aircraft close to insect size expected in the near future. While the robo-bugs can obviously be used for military purposes, they could also serve as scouts in rescue operations."
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Reuters reports that a pair of bulbous, helium-filled 'aerostats', each 243 feet long, will be moored to the ground and fly as high as 10,000 feet, as part of a high-tech shield designed to protect the Washington D.C. area from an air attack like the one that took place on September 11, 2001. One of the aerostats carries a powerful long-range surveillance radar with a 360-degree look-around capability that can reach out to 340 miles. The other carries a radar used for targeting. Operating for up to 30 days at a time, JLENS is meant to give the military more time to detect and react to threats (PDF), including cruise missiles and manned and unmanned aircraft, compared with ground-based radar and is also designed to defend against tactical ballistic missiles, large caliber rockets and moving vehicles that could be used for attacks, including boats, cars and trucks. 'We're trying to determine how the surveillance radar information from the JLENS platforms can be integrated with existing systems in the National Capital Region,' says Michael Kucharek, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command. Washington is currently guarded by an air-defense system that includes Federal Aviation Administration radars and Department of Homeland Security helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft on alert at Reagan National Airport to intercept slow, low-flying aircraft."