Amazon: a Single Disaster Made Us Rethink Our Cloud Supply Chain ( 32

1sockchuck writes: At this week's AWS re:Invent conference, Amazon Web Services introduced new features and looked ahead to a future in which enterprise computing shifts to the cloud. But AWS also looked back at how a disaster reshaped its supply chain. In 2011, an unusually heavy monsoon season led to massive flooding in Thailand, which at the time manufactured nearly half of the world's supply of hard disk drives (HDDs). Prices soared and shortages developed, and Amazon's usual vendors were unable to deliver the volume the company sought to support its fast-growing cloud computing platform. "When a single flood hits half the manufacturing supply, and you don't have a direct relationship with suppliers, it turns out to be hard to get what you need," said AWS executive Jerry Hunter. So AWS executives jumped on a plane, flew to Thailand, and began building direct relationships that would support their shift to company-built hardware.
Data Storage

Amazon To Offer Sneakernet Services: Data Upload By Mail 88

blueshift_1 writes: If you have 50TB of data that you'd like to put on the S3 cloud, Amazon is releasing Snowball. It's basically a large grey box full of hard drives that Amazon will mail to you. Simply upload your files and mail it back — they will upload it for you. For $200 + shipping, it's at a pretty reasonable price point if you're tired of hosting your data and want to try and push that to AWS. ("Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway." -Tanenbaum, Andrew S.)

Dell Brings 4K InfinityEdge Display To XPS 15 Line, GeForce GPU, Under 4 Pounds ( 84

MojoKid writes: There's no doubt that Dell's new XPS 13 notebook, when it debuted earlier this year, was very well received. Dell managed to cram a 13.3-inch 3200x1800 QHD+ display into a 12-inch carbon fiber composite frame. Dell has now brought that same InfinityEdge display technology to its larger XPS 15, which the company boasts has the same footprint as a 14-inch notebook. But Dell didn't just stay the course with the QHD+ resolution from the smaller XPS 13; the company instead is offering an optional UltraSharp 4K Ultra HD panel with 8 million pixels and 282 pixels per inch (PPI). The 350-nit display allows for 170-degree viewing angles and has 100 percent minimum Adobe RGB color. Dell also beefed up the XPS 15's internals, giving it sixth generation Intel Core processors (Skylake), support for up to 16GB of memory and storage options that top out with a 1TB SSD. Graphics duties are handled by either integrated Intel HD Graphics 530 or a powerful GeForce GTX 960M processor that is paired with 2GB GDDR5 memory. And all of this squeaks in at under 4 pounds.

Dell, EMC Said To Be In Merger Talks ( 96

itwbennett writes: According to a Wall Street Journal report (paywalled), Dell might buy some or all of storage giant EMC. (The grain of salt here is that the Journal's report cited unnamed sources, and cautioned that the companies might not finalize any agreement.) If the report has it right, though, "a total merger would be one of the biggest deals ever in the technology industry," writes Stephen Lawson for IDG, "with EMC holding a market value of about US$50 billion. It would also bring together two of the most important vendors to enterprise IT departments."

From Microsoft, HoloLens VR Dev Kit, New Phones, Continuum 87

Ars Technica and scads of other tech hardware sites are reporting that the big news so far from this morning's Microsoft product launch event in New York is that the company's Hololens development kit will begin shipping in the first quarter of next year, and at a price that puts the units out of the hands of typical consumers: $3000. At that level, developers are more likely to make the plunge, which Ars applauds.

The company also announced three new smartphones: two of them, the Lumia 950, 950XL, are worth designating "flagships," while the 550, notably, will sell for $139, putting it in the territory of cheap grey-market Android phones. More interesting than spec bumps, though, is Continuum for Windows, a Window 10 feature which made its official debut at the event. Continuum is one manifestation of the pocket-computer idea that others have had as well in various forms: it means that with an adapter, a phone can be used as the CPU and graphics engine when connected to a screen and keyboard: "The adapter features a Microsoft Display Dock, an HDMI and Display Port, plus 3 USB ports to provide productivity on the go and let you plug in additional peripherals, such as mice and keyboards. Other accessories can be connected too, Microsoft said."

Microsoft also demo'd the Surface 4. Its improved screen is 12.3" at 2160x1440, for a pixel density of 267 PPI. The new pro has a Skylake 6th-gen processor, which they say provides a 30% performance boost over the Surface Pro 3, and a 50% boost over the MacBook Air. The SP4 goes up to 1TB of storage, and up to 16GB of RAM. The Type Cover was improved as well — the touchpad is 40% larger and supports 5-point multi-touch, while the keys have better travel and pitch.

On top of this, Microsoft also unveiled the Surface Book laptop. Its defining feature is that you can unclip the 13.5" touchscreen and use it separately as a tablet. The keyboard dock has a dedicated GPU that will boost performance when attached. Microsoft is using a new type of hinge that bends and extends at multiple points, so you can also reattach the screen backward if you want to use it as a tablet while keeping the extra GPU power available. They claim a 12-hour battery life for the Surface Book.

EU Court of Justice Declares US-EU Data Transfer Pact Invalid 203

Sique writes: Europe's highest court ruled on Tuesday that a widely used international agreement for moving people's digital data between the European Union and the United States was invalid. The decision, by the European Court of Justice, throws into doubt how global technology giants like Facebook and Google can collect, manage and analyze online information from their millions of users in the 28-member bloc. The court decreed that the data-transfer agreement was invalid as of Tuesday's ruling. New submitter nava68 adds links to coverage at the Telegraph; also at TechWeek Europe. From TechWeek Europe's article: The ruling was the court’s final decision in a data-protection case brought by 27-year-old Austrian law student Max Schrems against the Irish data protection commissioner. That case, in turn, was spurred by Schrems’ concerns over the collection of his personal data by Facebook, whose European headquarters is in Ireland, and the possibility that the data was being handed over to US intelligence services.

TiVo's Latest Offering Detects and Skips Ads, Adds 4K Capability 85

As described by The Verge, the newest generation of TiVo is in some ways a step backward: it comes with fewer tuners than some earlier models, and less storage as well. However, two big features that distinguish the company's new Bolt DVR may entice users anyhow: it adds 4K recording, and (probably of use to more people, given the scarcity of 4K content, not to mention its file size) also can recognize and skip commercials, a feature that users have sorely missed as a mainstream feature in standalone DVRs for quite a while. (And it's possible that broadcasters will come up with a way to kill the commercial-skip function as they did with Dish's AutoHop.)

Ask Slashdot: Best Country For Secure Online Hosting? 112

An anonymous reader writes: I've recently discovered that my hosting company is sending all login credentials unencrypted, prompting me to change providers. Additionally, I'm finally being forced to put some of my personal media library (songs, photos, etc.) on-line for ready access (though for my personal consumption only) from multiple devices and locations... But I simply can't bring myself to trust any cloud-service provider. So while it's been partially asked before, it hasn't yet been answered: Which country has the best on-line personal privacy laws that would made it patently illegal for any actor, state, or otherwise, to access my information? And does anyone have a recommendation on which provider(s) are the best hosts for (legal) on-line storage there?

$50 Fire Tablet With High-capacity SDXC Slot Doesn't See E-books On the SD Card 145

Robotech_Master writes: For all that the $50 Fire tablet has a 128 GB capable SDXC card slot that outclasses every other tablet in its price range, and it evolved out of Amazon's flagship e-book reader, it strangely lacks the ability to index e-books on that card. This seems like a strange oversight, given that every other media app on the tablet uses that card for downloading and storage, and its 5 GB usable internal memory isn't a lot for people who have a large library of picture-heavy e-books—especially if they want to install other apps, too.

Advance In Super/Ultra Capacitor Tech: High Voltage and High Capacity 147

fyngyrz writes: Ultracaps offer significantly faster charge and discharge rates as well as considerably longer life than batteries. Where they have uniformly fallen short is in the amount of energy they can store as compared to a battery, and also the engineering backflips required to get higher voltages (which is the key to higher energy storage because the energy stored in a cap scales with the square of the cap's voltage, whereas doubling the cap's actual capacitance only doubles the energy, or in other words, the energy increase is linear.) This new development addresses these shortcomings all at once: considerably higher voltage, smaller size, higher capacitance, and to top it off, utilizes less corrosive internals. The best news of all: This new technology looks to be easy, even trivial, to manufacture, and uses inexpensive materials — and that is something neither batteries or previous types of ultracaps have been able to claim. After the debacle of EEStor's claims and failure to meet them for so long, and the somewhat related very slow advance of other ultracap technology, it's difficult not to be cynical. But if you read TFA (yes, I know, but perhaps you'll do it anyway) you may decide some optimism might actually be called for.

How Amazon's Robots Move Everything Around 177

dkatana writes: Amazon's drones have a long way to become reality, but the real magic of the Internet of Things (IoT) is already happening at Amazon's vast fulfillment warehouses in the US. Amazon runs a fleet of thousands of small robots moving storage pods around so orders can be fulfilled in record time. They are so efficient that they can move an entire warehouse and have ready to operate again during the weekend. All together the small robots have traveled over 93 million miles — almost the distance from Earth to the Sun.

Switch To Build Largest Data Center In the World In Reno 62

An anonymous reader writes: Data center provider Switch is planning to build a huge facility in Reno, Nevada, which it claims will be the largest data center campus in the world once completed. Switch has said that the SuperNap Reno campus will cost $3bn when fully built. The project will include seven data center buildings of the same size, totaling 6.49mn sq. ft.

How To Clean the Cruft Left By a Windows 10 Upgrade 205

MojoKid writes: Microsoft may have given you a free Windows 10 upgrade but it's not without some left over file clutter that some folks don't realize is left on a system after migration. It's not rocket science but there are a few key strategies to tidy up the file bloat an OS migration can sometimes leave behind and to further optimize an upgraded Windows 10 installation. The ability to roll back to your Windows 7 or 8.1 installation within 30 days is a very easily overlooked feature of the Windows 10 upgrade process. The feature is a lifesaver if you encounter issues, such as missing or incompatible drivers, and need to quickly recover without starting from scratch. This ability doesn't come without consequences, though. In order to offer this feature, Windows 10 is essentially keeping another completely separate Windows installation on your PC. This will need to go, once you've determined that you are sticking with Windows 10 and everything seems happy enough. These files are scattered throughout your system and include a number of hidden directories, with the bulk of them located in Windows.old and the hidden $Windows.~BT and $Windows.~WS directories.

Google Launches Cloud Dataproc, a Managed Spark and Hadoop Big Data Service 18

An anonymous reader writes: Google has a new cloud service for running Hadoop and Spark called Cloud Dataproc, which is being launched in beta today. The platform supports real-time streaming, batch processing, querying, and machine learning. Techcrunch reports: "Greg DeMichillie, director of product management for Google Cloud Platform, told me Dataproc users will be able to spin up a Hadoop cluster in under 90 seconds — significantly faster than other services — and Google will only charge 1 cent per virtual CPU/hour in the cluster. That's on top of the usual cost of running virtual machines and data storage, but as DeMichillie noted, you can add Google's cheaper preemptible instances to your cluster to save a bit on compute costs. Billing is per-minute, with a 10-minute minimum."

Inside Amazon's Cloud Computing Infrastructure 76

1sockchuck writes: As Sunday's outage demonstrates, the Amazon Web Services cloud is critical to many of its more than 1 million customers. Data Center Frontier looks at Amazon's cloud infrastructure, and how it builds its data centers. The company's global network includes at least 30 data centers, each typically housing 50,000 to 80,000 servers. "We really like to keep the size to less than 100,000 servers per data center," said Amazon CTO Werner Vogels. Like Google and Facebook, Amazon also builds its own custom server, storage and networking hardware, working with Intel to produce processors that can run at higher clockrates than off-the-shelf gear.