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Input Devices

Know Your Type: Five Mechanical Keyboards Compared 31

Posted by timothy
from the ok-but-nothing-beats-my-omnikey-or-model-ms dept.
MojoKid writes As a power user, you notice certain things that the average person might not. One of those is the difference between typing on a sweet mechanical keyboard with luxurious key action, versus pounding away on a run-of-the-mill squishy plank that relies on membrane switches to register your keystrokes. The difference may seem subtle to the uninitiated, though even casual typists can recognize that there's something inherently superior about a mechanical keyboard. Of course, it's the mechanical key switches that are responsible for elevating the typing experience. These are better than the rubber domes found in membrane keyboards in a number of ways, including feel, responsiveness, and durability. Mechanical keyboards are growing in popularity, as word is spreading about how good they are. In turn, keyboard manufacturers have responded by feeding more mechanical models into what was once a niche market. If you go out in search of a mechanical keyboard, you'll now find a mountain of options. This roundup further reinforced something we've known for a long time, which is that mechanical keyboards are the superior choice for both gaming and daily typing chores. That doesn't mean they're all created equal — there are different key switches to choose from, and features vary from one plank to the next. The choice of key switch type is highly subjective but we can say that Cherry MX key switches are indeed of higher quality than knock-offs like the Kailh switch. That's not to say Kailh switches are bad, just that you can discern a difference when going from one to the other.
Transportation

AirAsia Flight Goes Missing Between Indonesia and SIngapore 110

Posted by timothy
from the hard-loss dept.
iONiUM (530420) writes As reported by many news sources, yet another plane has lost contact during a trip. This comes on the heels of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 which is still missing, and Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was shot down. From ABC's coverage: Sixteen children and one infant were among the passengers. At a press conference this morning, Indonesian officials said the plane was several hours past the time when its fuel would have been exhausted. The six-year-old aircraft was on the submitted flight plan but requested a deviation because of enroute weather before communication with the aircraft was lost. The plane was under the control of the Indonesian Air Traffic Control and had been in the air for about 42 minutes when contact was lost, AirAsia said.
Transportation

Drunk Drivers in California May Get Mandated Interlock Devices 135

Posted by timothy
from the as-punishments-go dept.
Convicted drunk drivers all over California may soon be required to install and pay for the use of ignition interlock devices, at a cost of $50-100 per month, plus installation. Says the article: "State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, wants to expand a program already in place in four California counties, including Alameda, and 24 other states. Under the proposed state law Hill will introduce Monday, anyone convicted of driving under the influence would be required to install an ignition interlock device in their car for six months on a first offense and a year on a second conviction." Though interlock devices could be fitted to check for other conditions as well, the usual case (as described on this Wikipedia page) is that they base the ability to operate a car on blood alcohol content. Already in California, interlock devices are mandatory for those re-arrested for DUI while "driving on a suspended license due to a DUI conviction."
Facebook

Facebook Apologizes For 'Year In Review' Photos 152

Posted by timothy
from the how-was-the-parade-otherwise? dept.
Facebook this year showed users a compilation of photos drawn from their own gallery of uploaded images, but the automatic nature of the collation and display of those photos inspired the need for an apology on Facebook's part to at least one reader who was upset by the compiled pictures. That may sound silly, but even innocent data-mashing can touch real nerves. "Eric Meyer, a web design consultant and writer, is one of those people. Earlier this year, he lost his daughter to brain cancer on her sixth birthday. For that reason, Meyer wrote in a blog post, he had actively avoided looking at previews of his own automatically generated summary post. But Facebook put a personalized prompt advertising the feature in his newsfeed, he wrote, prominently featuring the face of his dead daughter -- surrounded by what appears to be clip art figures having a party."
AMD

Phoronix Lauds AMD's Open Source Radeon Driver Progress For 2014 32

Posted by timothy
from the parity-looms dept.
Phoronix has taken an in-depth look at progress on AMD's open source Radeon driver, and declares 2014 to have been a good year. There are several pages with detailed benchmarks, but the upshot is overwhelmingly positive: Across the board there's huge performance improvements to find out of the open-source AMD Linux graphics driver when comparing the state at the end of 2013 to the current code at the end of this year. The performance improvements and new features presented (among them are OpenMAX / AMD video encode, UVD for older AMD GPUs, various new OpenGL extensions, continued work on OpenCL, power management improvements, and the start of open-source HSA) has been nothing short of incredible. Most of the new work benefits the Radeon HD 7000 series and newer (GCN) GPUs the most but these tests showed the Radeon HD 6000 series still improving too. ... Coming up before the end of the year will be a fresh comparison of these open-source Radeon driver results compared to the newest proprietary AMD Catalyst Linux graphics driver.
Education

White House Touts Obama's 1-Liner as 2014 Tech Highlight 54

Posted by timothy
from the wrestling-bears-for-their-usb-keys-#2 dept.
theodp (442580) writes That President Obama became the first President to write a line of code (as a top Microsoft lobbyist looked on) is #1 on the White House's Top 9 science and technology highlights from 2014. To kick off this year's Hour of Code, the President 'learned to code' by moving a Disney Princess Elsa character 100 pixels on a screen, first by dragging-and-dropping Blockly puzzle pieces and then by coding 1 line of JavaScript. Interestingly, Bill Clinton might have been The First President To Write Code had Microsoft seen fit to use its patented, circa-1995 Graphical Programming System and Method for Enabling a Person to Learn Text-Based Programming — which describes how kids as young as 8-12 years of age can be taught to program by progressing from creating a program using graphical objects to doing so using text-based programming — to teach President Clinton to code some 20 years ago!
Censorship

The Interview Bombs In US, Kills In China, Threatens N. Korea 224

Posted by timothy
from the spoiler-alert dept.
First time accepted submitter twitnutttt (2958183) writes "While it has been broadly panned in the U.S. as not very funny, The Interview is surprisingly getting good reviews in China. And the North Korean government's fears of the threat posed by this movie are apparently merited: "It is powerful because it depicts Kim Jong-un as a vain, buffoonish despot, alternating between threats and weeping that he's been misunderstood. The people around him have all the signs of fear you might expect with a despot — they second-guess his likes and dislikes. Maybe he — and they — were right to fear the film. North Korean defectors sometimes smuggle USB sticks with films and soaps into the closed-off country, and there is a view in the south that these are a particularly powerful means of undermining the regime in Pyongyang. If that's so, The Interview might be a good candidate for inclusion." If you've seen the movie, and have your own reactions, please label any real spoilers out of courtesy.
The Internet

Google and Apple Weaseling Out of "Do Not Track" 98

Posted by timothy
from the except-for-the-following-circumstances dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Per an op-ed in today's New York Times, Google, Apple, and others would be effectively exempt from "Do not track": "[T]he rules would allow the largest Internet giants to continue scooping up data about users on their own sites and on other sites that include their plug-ins, such as Facebook's 'Like' button or an embedded YouTube video. This giant loophole would make 'Do Not Track' meaningless."
Space

Hubble Reveals a Previously Unknown Dwarf Galaxy Just 7 Million Light Years Away 62

Posted by timothy
from the hey-neighbor dept.
The L.A. Times reports that the Hubble Space Telescope's ongoing survey work has discovered a dwarf universe a mere 7 million light years away: While only just recently discovered using Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys, the galaxy known as KKs3 has been around for a long while. Astronomers led by Igor Karachentsev of the Special Astrophysical Observatory in Karachai-Cherkessia, Russia, showed that some 74% of KKs3’s star mass was formed in the universe’s early years, at least 12 billion years ago. Most of the tiny galaxy’s stars are old and dim, making it a fascinating fossil that could help astronomers understand what ancient galactic environments looked like.
Crime

13,000 Passwords, Usernames Leaked For Major Commerce, Porn Sites 131

Posted by timothy
from the watch-your-bill dept.
The Daily Dot reports that yesterday a "group claiming affiliation with the loose hacker collective Anonymous released a document containing approximately 13,000 username-and-password combinations along with credit card numbers and expiration dates." Most of the sites listed are distinctly NSFW, among other places, but the list includes some of the largest retailers, too, notably Amazon and Wal-Mart.
Robotics

An Open Source Flat Pack Robot Arm That's As Easy To Build As Ikea Furniture 33

Posted by timothy
from the fold-here-snip-there dept.
An anonymous reader writes The MeArm is a flat-pack robot arm. It has been developed in a very short time frame as the creators have been able to tap into crowd development by open sourcing all of the designs. Because of this it's exploded around the world with builders on every continent (bar Antarctica) and there are even people manufacturing them to sell in Peru, Taiwan and South Africa. MeArm manufacture them in the UK and export to distributors around the world, including Open Source pioneers like Adafruit and Hackaday in the USA. They're currently running a Kickstarter for a controller to take it out of the 'Hackersphere' and into the living room. They doubled their target in the first week and are still going strong so it's looking like they will be the first consumer flat pack robot kit in the world! Controller or not, you can download the arm from Thingiverse, and follow the project at Hackaday.
Facebook

Startup Acquisitions Herald Virtual, Augmented Reality Apps From Facebook 11

Posted by timothy
from the taking-a-farmville-to-the-face dept.
giulioprisco writes Oculus VR, the Virtual Reality (VR) technology company acquired by Facebook earlier this year, announced recently that they are acquiring two small start-up companies, Nimble VR and 13th Lab, to fill gaps in their virtual reality capabilities. The acquisitions may indicate that, besides VR games and social worlds, Facebook may target Augmented Reality (AR) applications, like Google is doing with Google Glass.
Government

N. Korea Blames US For Internet Outage, Compares Obama to "a Monkey" 190

Posted by timothy
from the he-doesn't-have-a-monkey-dot-org-address dept.
Reuters reports that North Korea's government has publicly blamed the U.S. for the widespread internet outages that the country has recently experienced (including today), and taken the opportunity to lambaste President Obama, as well. From the article: The National Defence Commission, the North's ruling body, chaired by state leader Kim Jong Un, said Obama was responsible for Sony's belated decision to release the action comedy "The Interview", which depicts a plot to assassinate Kim. "Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest," an unnamed spokesman for the commission said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency, using a term seemingly designed to cause racial offence that North Korea has used before.
The Military

Newest Stealth Fighter's Ground Attack Sensors 10 Years Behind Older Jets 238

Posted by timothy
from the how-are-its-faster-than-light-capabilities? dept.
schwit1 writes with this excerpt from The Daily Beast: America's $400 billion, top-of-the-line aircraft can't see the battlefield all that well. Which means it's actually worse than its predecessors at fighting today's wars. .... The problem stems from the fact that the technology found on one of the stealth fighter's primary air-to-ground sensors—its nose-mounted Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS)—is more than a decade old and hopelessly obsolete. The EOTS, which is similar in concept to a large high-resolution infrared and television camera, is used to visually identify and monitor ground targets. The system can also mark targets for laser-guided bombs. ... Older jets currently in service with the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps can carry the latest generation of sensor pods, which are far more advanced than the EOTS sensor carried by the F-35. ... The end result is that when the F-35 finally becomes operational after its myriad technical problems, cost overruns, and massive delays, in some ways it will be less capable than current fighters in the Pentagon's inventory.
Science

New Paper Claims Neutrino Is Likely a Faster-Than-Light Particle 112

Posted by timothy
from the don't-tell-the-trading-companies dept.
HughPickens.com writes Phys.org reports that in a new paper accepted by the journal Astroparticle Physics, Robert Ehrlich, a recently retired physicist from George Mason University, claims that the neutrino is very likely a tachyon or faster-than-light particle. Ehrlich's new claim of faster-than-light neutrinos is based on a much more sensitive method than measuring their speed, namely by finding their mass. The result relies on tachyons having an imaginary mass, or a negative mass squared. Imaginary mass particles have the weird property that they speed up as they lose energy – the value of their imaginary mass being defined by the rate at which this occurs. According to Ehrlich, the magnitude of the neutrino's imaginary mass is 0.33 electronvolts, or 2/3 of a millionth that of an electron. He deduces this value by showing that six different observations from cosmic rays, cosmology, and particle physics all yield this same value within their margin of error. One check on Ehrlich's claim could come from the experiment known as KATRIN, which should start taking data in 2015. In this experiment the mass of the neutrino could be revealed by looking at the shape of the spectrum in the beta decay of tritium, the heaviest isotope of hydrogen.

But be careful. There have been many such claims, the last being in 2011 when the "OPERA" experiment measured the speed of neutrinos and claimed they travelled a tiny amount faster than light. When their speed was measured again the original result was found to be in error – the result of a loose cable no less. "Before you try designing a "tachyon telephone" to send messages back in time to your earlier self it might be prudent to see if Ehrlich's claim is corroborated by others."

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