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Technology

Dubai's Climate-Controlled Dome City Is a Dystopia Waiting To Happen 265

Posted by Soulskill
from the looking-forward-to-the-reality-tv-show dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes: Dubai is building "the world's first climate-controlled city" — it's a 4.3 mile pedestrian mall that will be covered with a retractable dome to provide its shoppers with air conditioning in the summer heat. The Mall of the World, as it's called, will become the sort of spectacular, over-the-top attraction Dubai is known for. Shortly after, it will probably become an equally spectacular real-world dystopia.

By sectioning off a 3-million-square-foot portion of the city with an air conditioned dome, Dubai is dropping one of the most tangible partitions between the haves and the have nots of the modern era—the 100 hotels and apartment complexes inside the attraction will be cool, comfortable, and nestled into a entertainment-filled, if macabre, consumer paradise."
Medicine

A Box of Forgotten Smallpox Vials Was Just Found In an FDA Closet 119

Posted by Soulskill
from the thanks-for-making-me-feel-safe dept.
Jason Koebler writes: The last remaining strains of smallpox are kept in highly protected government laboratories in Russia and at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. And, apparently, in a dusty cardboard box in an old storage room in Maryland. The CDC said today that government workers had found six freeze-dried vials of the Variola virus, which causes smallpox, in a storage room at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland last week. Each test tube had a label on it that said "variola," which was a tip-off, but the agency did genetic testing to confirm that the viruses were, in fact, smallpox.
Microsoft

Microsoft Backs Open Source For the Internet of Things 136

Posted by samzenpus
from the free-and-open dept.
dcblogs writes Microsoft has joined a Linux Foundation effort to create an open platform for the Internet of Things. The AllSeen Alliance is an effort to standardize device communications. The code that it champions, called AllJoyn, was initially developed by Qualcomm but was subsequently made open source. Big vendors have been recruited to support it, and the AllSeen Alliance now includes LG, Panasonic, Sharp and Haier, among others. Its Xbox gaming platform is seen as a potential hub or control center for home devices. Microsoft's leadership in computing "and its significant Xbox business make it a potentially important contributor to the AllSeen ecosystem," said said Andy Castonguay, an analyst at Machina Research, a Reading, England-based research firm focusing on machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and the Internet of Things.

Comment: Re:Software Patents Are Just Wrong (Score 1) 43

If software patents were around back in the 80's

They were. Commodore used a character set which contained an inverse-video duplicate set to avoid a software patent on the use of exclusive-OR to draw a cursor. Specifically, some drafting company back in the late 70's patented the idea of using XOR to draw a crosshairs, so in the VIC20, C64, and others, the cursor was implemented by periodically alternating the target location between the character located there and its counterpart in the inverse-video half of the character set. Apple avoided this patent by alternating between the character on the screen and a little checkerboard cursor.

Supercomputing

Stanford Bioengineers Develop 'Neurocore' Chips 9,000 Times Faster Than a PC 209

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'll-order-a-dozen dept.
kelk1 sends this article from the Stanford News Service: "Stanford bioengineers have developed faster, more energy-efficient microchips based on the human brain – 9,000 times faster and using significantly less power than a typical PC (abstract). Kwabena Boahen and his team have developed Neurogrid, a circuit board consisting of 16 custom-designed 'Neurocore' chips. Together these 16 chips can simulate 1 million neurons and billions of synaptic connections. The team designed these chips with power efficiency in mind. Their strategy was to enable certain synapses to share hardware circuits. ... But much work lies ahead. Each of the current million-neuron Neurogrid circuit boards cost about $40,000. (...) Neurogrid is based on 16 Neurocores, each of which supports 65,536 neurons. Those chips were made using 15-year-old fabrication technologies. By switching to modern manufacturing processes and fabricating the chips in large volumes, he could cut a Neurocore's cost 100-fold – suggesting a million-neuron board for $400 a copy."

Comment: Re:Now it's the grid engineers' problem to solve.. (Score 1) 227

by VanessaE (#46685693) Attached to: Nanodot-Based Smartphone Battery Recharges In 30 Seconds

So put a big, obvious indicator on the charging station that shows a color-coded load level. After a while, EV owners will come to understand it at least enough to know that a high reading means their car will charge slower.

If consumers can figure out those little pinch-the-ends-to-read charge indicators in some batteries, and what a regular traffic signal means at an intersection, they can figure out "green means fast, red means slow" at the charge station and charge up or go elsewhere accordingly.

Stations can even display their capacity reading on their main sign under the price, if they're proud of it anyway.

Facebook

Minecraft Creator Halts Plans For Oculus Version Following Facebook Acquisition 300

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the rash-decisions dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Not one hour after the announcement of the the acquisition of Oculus Rift by Facebook yesterday, Markus 'Notch' Persson has announced that he has ceased all discussions about bringing it to Oculus Rift. 'I don't want to work with social, I want to work with games. ... Facebook is not a company of grass-roots tech enthusiasts. Facebook is not a game tech company. Facebook has a history of caring about building user numbers, and nothing but building user numbers. People have made games for Facebook platforms before, and while it worked great for a while, they were stuck in a very unfortunate position when Facebook eventually changed the platform to better fit the social experience they were trying to build.' Persson has stated that he made this decision despite initially investing $10,000 in Oculus' Kickstarter."
Transportation

Mazda Says Its Upcoming Gas-Powered Cars Will Emit Less CO2 Than Electric Cars 330

Posted by Soulskill
from the extraordinary-claims-require-extraordinary-evidence dept.
cartechboy writes: "One of the arguments for electric cars is that we are reducing greenhouse gases and emitting less CO2 than vehicles with an internal combustion engine. But Mazda says its next-generation SkyActiv engines will be so efficient, they'll emit less CO2 than an electric car. In fact, the automaker goes so far as to say these new engines will be cleaner to run than electric cars. Is it possible? Yes, but it's all about the details. It'll depend on the test cycles for each region. Vehicles are tested differently in Europe than in the U.S., and that variation could make all the difference when it comes to these types of claims. At the end of the day whether future Mazdas with gasoline-powered engines are cleaner than electric cars or not, every little bit in the effort to reduce our carbon emissions per mile is a step in the right direction, right?"

Comment: Re:The olden days (Score 1) 66

by VanessaE (#46274039) Attached to: Ask "The Fat Man" George Sanger About Music and Computer Games

But a distinction must be made here: Protracker and friends may have had "tracks" that work more or less like a professional studio, but the thing is, the *other* limits of the format meant that making music with a module tracker was a WHOLE different beast than doing it with a recording studio.

With module files/trackers, you could play exactly one sound sample at a time on each track - which is why many of us preferred to call them channels rather than tracks.

Each sound might be a single key on a piano, a single string on a violin, a crash of a cymbal, or whatever. If you needed a chord and you didn't have enough spare channels to play it (which was often the case), then to did it the hard way: you either composed and edited that chord in your favorite sample player/editor program and and loaded the result into your tracker or you sought out someone else who had already done the work... and that's if you only needed one type of chord for just one specific instrument (say, a major chord on a piano). Wait, you need a minor chord for that instrument also? Oops, better go compose/download one. Oh, need a few chords in one of the other instruments? Crap, gotta go do those also.

A module artist had, at most, only 31 sound slots to work with back in the day, so it was pretty easy to run out - and that's before you even start laying down you actual tracks.

With careful attention to note durations and use of the "set sample offset" effect command, you could combine several shorter samples into one "conglomerate" multipurpose sample that you could pick-and-choose from as needed, giving the appearance of more than just 31 samples. Problem is, this came at a price: You couldn't use this trick on anything that might need an effect command, there was no way to set custom sample loop endpoints (that I remember), and you only had 128 kB of sample data per sound slot, so it was only useful for short percussion-like instruments and sound effects.

When you laid down your tracks and assigned pitches, durations, and various effect commands to the samples (I mean the regular stuff like vibrato or portamento) is where the music was actually made.

Newer module formats eliminated the sample lengths, counts, and limits on the numbers of channels, of course.

Comment: Re:Rule of acquisition 18 (Score 1) 888

by VanessaE (#46250455) Attached to: Star Trek Economics

The problem isn't that people want to drag the more successful down to their level. The problem is that the most successful out there barely do anything genuinely good with their money (if at all, and excepting rare cases), and therefore are not doing enough help to raise the poor UP to a better standard of living.

Somewhere I read that if we spent just half as much on housing as we spend on putting non-violent offenders in prison - counting only those who should not BE in prison to begin with, and counting only those who have no homes - we could put a roof over every last person's head in this country, free of charge to those people, and even pay for a social worker to see to that person's social-economic needs (at least, to within that that person is willing to do for themselves, of course). If they fail to get themselves out of their slump, they STILL keep the house, and we as a society come out ahead both economically and socially.

+ - Owner: Vote, your choice: Get rid of Slashdot:Beta OR everyone goes elsewhere-> 1

Submitted by Ying Hu
Ying Hu (704950) writes "Slashdot Beta is not Slashdot: http://slashdot.org/journal/63...
What was loved about Slashdot does not appear in the new design — those creating the latter, please fire yourself and go work for a commercial consumer site (which we never read, and never will). OUR site should work without JavaScript, and JavaScript that IS used should to do something actually desired by a reader or commenter, not waste our bandwidth and CPU, and electricity, sending CRAP onto our computers. Improvements/ plugins, http://userstyles.org/styles/9..., won't be enough."

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