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Power

Company Extends Alkaline Battery Life With Voltage Booster 243 243

New submitter ttsai writes: Batteroo is a Silicon Valley company preparing to release its Batteriser product in September. The Batteriser is a small sleeve that fits around alkaline batteries to boost the voltage to 1.5V. This means that batteries that would otherwise be thrown into the trash when the voltage dips to 1.3V or 1.4V could be used until the unboosted voltage reaches 0.6V, extending the useful life of a battery 8x, according to the company. This product has the potential to reduce the number of batteries in landfills as well as increasing the time between replacing batteries. The expected price of the sleeve is $10 for a pack of 4 sleeves.

Comment: Re:Puh-leeze (Score 5, Funny) 72 72

Running out of conventional memory? Yeah, I know your pain. Well, I'll tell you a secret. There's this fancy thing called EMM386.. just add it to your CONFIG.SYS after the LOAD=HIMEM.SYS and don't forget to specify DOS=HIGH. It's really that easy and it should get you an easy extra 30 maybe even 45 kB more free RAM.

Cheers.

P.S. MSCDEX is for wimps.

Medicine

How Light at Night Affects Preschoolers' Sleep Patterns (Video) 51 51

The effects of light and dark on adults' Circadian rythym has been studied over and over, but there hasn't been much research done on how light at night affects young children's sleep patterns. This is the topic of Lameese Akacem's doctoral dissertation, and is a study being carried out under the aegis of the Sleep and Development Laboratory at the University of Colorado, Boulder, under the direction of Assistant Professor Monique K. LeBourgeois. Aside from the inherent value of this research, which may help parents decide whether (and how much) they are messing up their children's sleep patterns by letting them view screens such as TVs, tablets or smart phones near bedtime, its funding is unique; the money for this study is coming, at least in part, from crowdfunding. The crowdfunding itself is an experiment. This study is one of a small, select group of projects the University of Colorado at Boulder has in its pilot crowdfunding program. Its crowdfunding time window closes next week, so if you want to help sponsor this experiment, and help learn how different kinds of light can affect how (and how well) small children sleep, you need to act within the next six days. (This is a two-part video. Part one runs today. Part two will run tomorrow.)
Encryption

Tor Project Aims To Eclipse US Government Funding 53 53

An anonymous reader writes Developed by the U.S. Navy and the recipient of millions of dollars of government grants, the Tor Project is now aiming to ween itself off dependence of U.S. government funds "including setting a goal of 50 percent non-U.S. government funding by 2016." The initiative comes after months of discussion over what some vocal critics deemed a contradiction in funding and purpose.
Input Devices

Listnr Wants to be 'Your Listening Assistant' (Video) 45 45

This Listnr is "a new listening device connected to the cloud" being developed by a team in Japan that's currently running a Kickstarter project looking for $50,000 by March 7. The other Listnr "is a free music service helping people discover the best music from independent artists on Soundcloud and Bandcamp." More accurately, that's what it was, since their last Facebook post was in 2011 and their domain name is now for sale. Today's Listnr -- the listening device one -- claims it is able to tell whether a baby it hears is laughing, crying, gurgling or trying to talk. It is supposed to respond to finger snaps, hand claps, and other audio commands. It has an open API so that you can extend its use however you like. The company, too, is working on new applications for their product. Will there be enough of them, and will they interest enough people, to make this a success? Co-Founder Rie Ehara says, "We wanted to build something using sound to enrich and delight our lives." As of today (Feb. 2), Listnr is slightly less than halfway to its Kickstarter goal, so it's still a coin-toss whether or not Listnr will succeed.
Printer

VP Anthony Moschella Shows Off Makerbot's Latest Printers and Materials (Video) 47 47

You may have read a few weeks ago about the new materials that MakerBot has introduced for its 3-D printers; earlier this month, I got a chance to see some of them in person, and have them explained by MakerBot VP of Product Anthony Moschella in a cramped demo closet — please excuse the lighting — at the company's booth at CES. Moschella had some things to say about materials, timelines, and what MakerBot is doing to try to salvage its open-source cred, despite being a very willing part of a corporate conspiracy to sell boxes of Martha Stewart-branded extruder filament — as well as a few unremarkable things that the company's ever-vigilant PR overseer decreed Moschella couldn't answer on the record for reasons like agreements between MakerBot parent Stratasys and their suppliers. The good news for owners of recent MakerBot models: they'll be upgradeable to use the new and interesting materials with a part swap, rather than a whole-machine swap (it takes a "smart extruder" rather than the current, dumber one). And the pretty good news for fans of open source, besides that the current generation of MakerBots are all Linux-based computers themselves, is that MakerBot's open API provides a broad path for 3-D makers to interact with the printers. (The bad news is that there's no move afoot to return the machines' guts to open source hardware, like the early generations of MakerBots, but STL files at least don't care whether you ship them to an FSF-approved printer to be made manifest.)
Portables

Getting Charged Up Over Chargers at CES (Video) 33 33

First we look at Skiva Technology and their Octofire 8-port USB charger that pulled in nearly five times the requested amount from a Kickstarter campaign. (The 'pulled in X times the requested Kickstarter amount' is becoming a common product boast, isn't it?) Then, for MacBook owners who are tired of having their chargers or charger cords break, we take a brief look at the Juiceboxx Charger Case. These two power-oriented products and WakaWaka, which we posted about on January 9, are just a tiny, random sample of the many items in this category that were on display at CES 2015. Timothy was the only Slashdot person working CES, so it's shocking that he managed to cover as many (hopefully interesting) products as he did, considering that even the biggest IT journo mills don't come close to total coverage of the overwhelming muddle CES has become in recent years. (Alternate Video Link)
Security

'Never Miss Another Delivery' - if You Have a TrackPIN (Video) 85 85

The company is called TrackPIN, as is the product. Its creator, Mark Hall, showed it off at CES. Timothy pointed his camcorder at Mark as he explained how his product would let you get package deliveries safely when you aren't home by giving the UPS or FedEx (or other) delivery person access to your garage, as well as letting in selected people like your maid, your plumber, and possibly an aquarium cleaner. Each one can have a private, one-time PIN number that will actuate your garage door opener through the (~$250) TrackPIN keypad and tell your smartphone or other net-connected device that your garage was just opened, and by whom. You might even call this, "One small step for package delivery; a giant leap forward for the Internet of Things." Except those of us who don't have garages (not to mention electric garage door openers) may want to skip today's video; the TrackPIN isn't meant for the likes of us. (Alternate Video Link)
Bitcoin

Jim Blasko Explains 'Unbreakable Coin' (Video 2 of 2) 39 39

Today, the conclusion of my talk with Jim Blasko (here's part 1), who encourages you to go start your own crypto currency, because it's a fun exercise and because every entrant adds new ideas to the mix. As you'd expect, he's bullish about both his own Unbreakable Coin and cryptocurrencies more generally; how any given given currency performs, though, is an open question: U.S. dollars, Euros, or Yen may not go experience any meteoric rises, but their stability, even with inflation, is a nice feature, and so is their worldwide convertibility.

Regulation, speculation, fraud, and cultural fashions all play a role in making new currencies risky; reader mbkennel yesterday asked an insightful question: "Are you up to loaning bitcoin or something less popular for 10 years?" Confidence in any given currency can be tested with the terms current holders are willing to accept to make loans payable in that same currency. (On the other hand, if large companies will accept it in payment, they've probably got an idea that a given currency will be around next month or next year.) If you've bought any form of crypto currency, what's been your experience, and what do you expect in 10 years? (Alternate Video Link)
Bitcoin

Jim Blasko Explains BitCoin Spinoff 'Unbreakable Coin' (Video 1 of 2) 55 55

Las Vegas seems an appropriate place for cryptocurrency businesses to emerge, both because the coins themselves are so volatile that some gambling instinct may be required, and because Vegas is a high-tech outpost with lower taxes and lower rents than many other West Coast hot-spots, well-suited to risky startups with ambition but without huge venture backing.Jim Blasko moved there to work on low-voltage engineering for Penn & Teller, and is a qualified Crestron programmer, too (useful in a town that looks from the air like one giant light-show), but has shifted to a quite different endeavor, or rather a complex of them — all related to cryptocurrency. I ran into Blasko during this month's CES, at a forum with several other cryptocoin startups, and the next day we met to talk about just how hard (or easy) it is to get into this world as an entrepreneur.

Blasko has some advice for anyone who'd like to try minting a new cryptocurrency. Making your own coin, he says, is the easy part: anyone can clone code from an existing entrant, like Bitcoin, and rename the result — and that's exactly what he did. The hard work is what comes after: making worthwhile changes, building trust, and making it tradeable. Blasko's done the legwork to get his own currency, which he's bravely called "Unbreakable Coin," listed on exchanges like Cryptsy, and is working on his own auction site as well. He's also got an interesting idea for cryptocoin trading cards, and had a few prototypes on hand. (Part 1 is below; Part 2 to follow.) Alternate Video Link
Security

Forget Stuxnet: Banking Trojans Attacking Power Plants 34 34

New submitter PLAR writes: Everyone's worried about the next Stuxnet sabotaging the power grid, but a security researcher says there's been a spike in traditional banking Trojan attacks against plant floor networks. The malware poses as legitimate ICS/SCADA software updates from Siemens, GE and Advantech. Kyle Wilhoit, the researcher who discovered the attacks, says the attackers appear to be after credentials and other financial information, so it looks like pure cybercrime, not nation-state activity.
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: Options For Cheap Home Automation? 189 189

New submitter goose-incarnated writes I'm looking at cheap and simple home automation. Unfortunately I'm not too clued up on what my options are. There are such a wide array of choices, none of which seem (to me) to be either cheap or simple. I'd like to: Turn switches on/off (lights, wall sockets, general relays, etc); Read the status of on/off switches; Read analog samples (for example, temperature sensors); 'Program' switches based on analog samples/existing switches (for example, program a relay to come on at 30C and go off at 25C, thereby controlling the temperature); Similarly, program switches to go on/off at certain times; Record the samples of analog or digital inputs for a given time . I'd like to do the above using smartphone+bluetooth (for when I'm in the vicinity of the room), or smartdevice+WiFi (for when I'm in the house, somewhere), or even in a pinch, using HTTP to access a server at home from 600km away (which is what I'm willing to do). I'm definitely not willing to stream all my requests/data/responses through a third-party so third party cloud subscription solutions, even if free, are out of the question. Finally (because I know the Slashdot crowd likes a challenge :-)), I'd like something that is easily reprogrammable without having to compile code, then reflash a device, etc. What languages for embedded devices exist for home automation programming, if any. A quick google search reveals nothing specially made for end-users to reprogram their devices, but, like I said above, I'm clueless about options.

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban

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