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+ - The World's Worst Planes: Aircraft Designs That Failed->

Submitted by dryriver
dryriver (1010635) writes "The BBC reports: 'It's more than 110 years since mankind first took to the air in a powered aircraft. During that time, certain designs have become lauded for their far-sighted strengths – the Supermarine Spitfire; Douglas DC-3 Dakota; or the Anglo-French Concorde supersonic airliner, to name a few. But then there are planes like the Christmas Bullet. Designed by Dr William Whitney Christmas, who was described by one aviation historian as the "greatest charlatan to ever see his name associated with an airplane", this ”revolutionary” prototype biplane fighter had no struts supporting the wings; instead, they were supposed to flap like a bird’s. Both prototypes were destroyed during their first flights – basically, because Christmas's "breakthrough" design was so incapable of flight that the wings would twist off the airframe at the first opportunity. Just as many of the world's most enduring designs share certain characteristics, the history of aviation is littered with disappointing designs. Failures like Christmas's uniquely unflyable aircraft often overlooked some fairly simple rules: The Douglas TBD Devastator was a death-trap; it could only release its torpedo flying in a straight line whilst dawdling at 115mph – making it easy to shoot down. The short-lived Brewster Buffalo was shot down in droves when it encountered Japanese fighters in the early years of World War II, proving too slow and cumbersome. The Fairey Albacore was intended to become the Royal Navy’s standard torpedo bomber; it ended up being edged out by the plane it was supposed to replace. A flaw in the design of the De Havilland Comet’s cabin windows led to several crashes which ended the plane’s promising airline career. The Douglas DC-10 suffered several early crashes due to the flawed design of its cargo doors, which caused them to open mid-flight.'"
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+ - ANTVR - China's Answer To FB's Oculus Rift Is Raising Funds->

Submitted by dryriver
dryriver (1010635) writes "Chinese technology startup ANTVR (http://www.antvr.com/) is raising funds on Kickstarter (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/805968217/antvr-kit-all-in-one-universal-virtual-reality-kit) for a new, gaming oriented VR Headset capable of rivalling FaceBook's Oculus Rift VR Headset technologically speaking. The ANTVR headset features a full HD screen (1920 x 1080, 1 megapixel per eye), 100 degrees of FOV, 9-axis motion detect with low latency (1 ms), wireless communication, support for Playstation, Xbox, PC, Android gaming platforms, as well as an interesting "virtual gun" type controller that can be folded open into a steering wheel or gamepad-type controller, and also holds batteries that can power the ANTVR for 3 — 8 hours. Interesting technical features include being able to detect whether the ANTVR wearer steps forward, backwards, to the left or to the right, and also whether the wearer crouches or jumps. The ANTVR headset also comes with a viewing window at the bottom of the unit that can be opened, so you can glance down and see your hands and keyboard and mouse for example. What makes ANTVR interesting is that it isn't a "cheap Chinese knockoff of Oculus Rift". A lot of original thought seems to have gone into making ANTVR a "significantly different from a design standpoint" competitor to Oculus Rift. It now remains to be seen how much money ANTVR can raise on Kickstarter, and how many real world users/gamers opt for this new Chinese VR kit over the older — and currently — more famous Oculus Rift."
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+ - Keepod - Can A "7 Dollar USB Stick" Bring Thousands Of Poor People Online?->

Submitted by dryriver
dryriver (1010635) writes "The BBC reports: 'The USB flash drive is one of the most simple, everyday pieces of technology that many people take for granted. Now it's being eyed as a possible solution to bridging the digital divide, by two colourful entrepreneurs behind the start-up Keepod. Nissan Bahar and Franky Imbesi aim to combat the lack of access to computers by providing what amounts to an operating-system-on-a-stick. In six weeks, their idea managed to raise more than $40,000 (£23,750) on fundraising site Indiegogo, providing the cash to begin a campaign to offer low-cost computing to the two-thirds of the globe's population that currently has little or no access. The test bed for the project is the slums of Nairobi in Kenya. The typical income for the half a million people in the city's Mathare district is about $2 (£1.20) a day. Very few people here use a computer or have access to the net. But Mr Bahar and Mr Imbesi want to change that with their Keepod USB stick. It will allow old, discarded and potentially non-functional PCs to be revived, while allowing each user to have ownership of their own "personal computer" experience — with their chosen desktop layout, programs and data — at a fraction of the cost of providing a unique laptop, tablet or other machine to each person. In addition, the project avoids a problem experienced by some other recycled PC schemes that resulted in machines becoming "clogged up" and running at a snail's pace after multiple users had saved different things to a single hard drive. The two men hope to get up to 150,000 people signed up to their idea in the country.'"
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+ - China Censors 'The Big Bang Theory' And Other Streaming Shows->

Submitted by dryriver
dryriver (1010635) writes "The Guardian reports: Chinese authorities have ordered video streaming websites in the country to stop showing four popular American TV shows, including The Big Bang Theory and The Good Wife, senior staff from two sites said Sunday. The move suggests government attention is intensifying on the online streaming industry, which is freer than state television and China's cinemas to show foreign productions and other content and has stretched the boundaries of what can be seen in the country. A spokeswoman for a leading online video site, Youku, said it had received notification on Saturday not to show sitcom The Big Bang Theory, political and legal drama The Good Wife, crime drama NCIS and legal drama The Practice. The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television didn't give a reason for its order, said the spokeswoman, who couldn't be named because of company policy. Calls to the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television rang unanswered Sunday. A senior manager at another site, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said it received an order last week to 'clean their website'. The order, which was identical to ones sent to other companies, also listed a Chinese slapstick mini-series made by another site, Sohu, as having to be removed. Sohu did not immediately respond to a request for comment."
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+ - PowerVR "Wizard" GPU Is First Mobile Gaming GPU With Hardware Ray Tracing->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Imagination Technologies, the people who make the PowerVR line of mobile GPUs, have unveiled a new mobile gaming GPU ("Wizard") that does realtime ray tracing in hardware, at gaming frame rates. It has long been predicted that 3D games would eventually begin to employ true ray tracing to create computationally expensive visual effects like realistic reflections, refractions, shadows and lighting in realtime games. The PowerVR "Wizard" GPU is the first mobile GPU that can do just that in hardware. It remains to be seen how many commercial game engines, game development studios and mobile games will decide to make use of this new interesting new hardware capability. The question whether rival GPU manufacturers like Nvidia or AMD will also jump on the ray tracing bandwagon and put hardware ray tracing units in their future GPUs is also open at this point. If the hardware ray tracing trend catches on, however, and the hardware needed for it becomes mainstream, and more powerful in time, it could make for interesting virtual experiences like "true photoreal VR" when used in conjunction with a VR headset like the Oculus Rift for example."
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+ - NR: Silicon Valley's Brutal Ageism->

Submitted by dryriver
dryriver (1010635) writes "New Republic Article About 'Ageism' In The Tech Sector: Silicon Valley has become one of the most ageist places in America. Tech luminaries who otherwise pride themselves on their dedication to meritocracy don’t think twice about deriding the not-actually-old. 'Young people are just smarter,' Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told an audience at Stanford back in 2007. As I write, the website of ServiceNow, a large Santa Clara–based I.T. services company, features the following advisory in large letters atop its 'careers' page: 'We Want People Who Have Their Best Work Ahead of Them, Not Behind Them.' And that’s just what gets said in public. An engineer in his forties recently told me about meeting a tech CEO who was trying to acquire his company. 'You must be the token graybeard,' said the CEO, who was in his late twenties or early thirties. 'I looked at him and said, "No, I’m the token grown-up." ' In talking to dozens of people around Silicon Valley over the past eight months—engineers, entrepreneurs, moneymen, uncomfortably inquisitive cosmetic surgeons—I got the distinct sense that it’s better to be perceived as naïve and immature than to have voted in the 1980s. And so it has fallen to Dr. Matarasso to make older workers look like they still belong at the office. 'It’s really morphed into, "Hey, I’m forty years old and I have to get in front of a board of fresh-faced kids. I can’t look like I have a wife and two-point-five kids and a mortgage," ' he told me. Dr. Matarasso told me that, in ascending order of popularity, the male techies favor laser treatments to clear up broken blood vessels and skin splotches. Next is a treatment called ultherapy—essentially an ultrasound that tightens the skin. 'I’ve had it done of course. I was back at work the next day. There’s zero downtime.' But, as yet, there is no technology that trumps good old-fashioned toxins, the most common treatment for the men of tech. They will go in for a little Botox between the eyes and around the mouth. Like most overachievers, they are preoccupied with the jugular. 'Men really like the neck,' Matarasso said, pointing out the spot in my own platysma muscle where he would inject some toxin to firm things up."
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+ - WHO: Air Pollution "Killed 7 Million People" In 2012->

Submitted by dryriver
dryriver (1010635) writes "The BBC reports: Seven million people died as a result of air pollution in 2012, the World Health Organization estimates. Its findings suggest a link between air pollution and heart disease, respiratory problems and cancer. One in eight global deaths were linked with air pollution, making it 'the world's largest single environmental health risk', the WHO said. Nearly six million of the deaths had been in South East Asia and the WHO's Western Pacific region, it found. The WHO said about 3.3 million people had died as a result of indoor air pollution and 2.6 million deaths were related to outdoor air pollution, mainly in low- and middle-income countries in those regions. WHO public health, environmental and social determinants of health department director Dr Maria Neira said: 'The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes. Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution.' 'The evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe.' Reducing air pollution could save millions of lives, said the WHO. 'Poor women and children pay a heavy price from indoor air pollution since they spend more time at home breathing in smoke and soot from leaky coal and wood cook stoves.'"
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Comment: Longtime Softimage Users Are Stunned By The News (Score 5, Informative) 85

by dryriver (#46436295) Attached to: Autodesk Says It's Killing Softimage Development, Support
Autodesk bought Softimage XSI for cheap, and just killed it to remove competition from their flagship products 3DMAX and MAYA. There is a huge thread about this over on cgsociety.org: http://forums.cgsociety.org/sh... ...Basically, anybody who built their studio pipeline around Softimage XSI, including many indy game developers, is royally screwed. Softimage's most powerful feature "ICE" (a multithreaded, node-based visual programming language that lets even non-programmers build custom tools and functions inside Softimage) is being migrated to Autodesk Maya instead. Its going to be called "Bifrost", as it is the "second coming" of Softimage ICE. Many Softimage users are wondering what other 3D software they can migrate to. Many are considering migrating to SideFX's "Houdini" (http://www.sidefx.com/), which is a very powerful procedural-animation software used extensively in some of the most complex VFX shots you see in Hollywood films, like the character shatter effects in TRON LEGACY. Some are considering moving to the open-source Blender 3D software, to escape from Autodesk's business policies completely. Basically, Autodesk bought Softimage, slowly killed it, ripped out the best bits, and is now forcing Softimage users to migrate to either 3DMAX or Maya, which are Autodesk's cash cows in the Media & Entertainment division. A lot of people are very pissed off about this. But this is hardly the first time Autodesk has killed a successful product (e.g. the once-excellent Autodesk Combustion), because it didn't make enough money for Autodesk's profit hungry shareholders. A sad day for Softimage XSI users. It has powered films ranging from the first Jurrassic Park to the recent LEGO movie. It was particularly strong at pulling off complex character animation, including complex muscle-and-sliding-skin simulations (e.g. the all-CG primates in "Dawn Of The Planet Of The APES"). XSI was a good CG software. It will be sorely missed by many... If Blender can get its UI overhaul right in the next release, some XSI users may migrate to the open-source software.

+ - Ask Slashdot: How Many (Electronics) Gates Is That Software Algorithm?

Submitted by dryriver
dryriver (1010635) writes "Dear Slashdotters: We have developed a graphics algorithm that got an electronics manufacturer interested in turning it into hardware. Here comes the problematic bit... The electronics manufacturer asked us to describe how complex the algorithm is. More specifically, we were asked "How many (logic) gates would be needed to turn your software algorithm into hardware?" This threw us a bit, since none of us have done electronics design before. So here is the question: Is there are a software or other tool that can analyze an algorithm written in C/C++ and estimate how many gates would be needed to turn it into hardware? Or, perhaps, there is a more manual method of converting code lines to gates? Maybe an operation like "Add" would require 3 gates while an operation like "Divide" would need 6 gates? Something like this anyway... To state the question one more time: How do we get from a software algorithm that is N lines long and executes X number of total operations overall, to a rough estimate of how many gates this algorithm would use when translated into electronic hardware?"

Comment: I hope BF4 is better than Battlefield 3 (Score 2, Interesting) 272

by dryriver (#45180011) Attached to: The Battle For the Game Industry's Soul
Battlefield 3 was no fun to play. It was a real system hog, had unacceptably long map load times, had an external HTML-based server browser that sucked, and the gameplay pretty much consisted of you entering the game, and being mowed down by a higher ranking player with more unlocked gadgets in the first 20 seconds. Battlefield 2 was a lot of fun. Battlefield 2142 was also great (Scifi-themed) fun. Battlefield 3 sucked bad in terms of simple things like "overall enjoyment" and "fun gameplay". As for Battlefield 4, I personally have little hope that EA has learned anything from Battlefield 3's gameplay problems. I'm guessing that it will suck on the gameplay side like BF3 did, but that it will have prettier graphics (which of course will require a bang-up-to-date PC or laptop to enjoy properly). My 2 Cents...ü

+ - Axiom - The Open-Source, Modular, Crowdfunded, 4K@150FPS Cinema Camera->

Submitted by dryriver
dryriver (1010635) writes "Redsharknews.com reports: An outfit named Apertus (www.apertus.org) are working on a 4K raw capable cinema camera called the Axiom that will use open source software at its core — but they are also making the hardware it runs on as open as possible too. To get all this started, and as a kind of "proof of concept", they're building right now a much more limited prototype called the Axiom Alpha. It’s based on the same sensor as the full Axiom (the CMV12000) but it only shoots 1080p (downscaled from 4K) instead of the full 4K that the finished camera will provide. But it’s also based on FGPA technology just like the full 4K Axiom, so the idea is to use the Alpha prototype to get the basic software up and running before moving on to the final release camera. Apertus are not releasing full details of the full 4K Axiom camera yet (The Axiom Omega?) because much of it isn’t set in stone — as you might expect from a fully software updateable camera — but they have stated that it will be 4K, have a Super 35mm Global Shutter, have interchangeable lens mounts, be capable of 150fps at the full 4K resolution, and the biggest thing of all is that it will be fully modular! There will be lots of different modules for doing different things and as it’s open you will even be able to design your own modules! (Subject to time and ability constraints of course) As it is a fully modular system, it means you can strip the camera down to the basic functionality you will need to keep it light and small. For instance if you don’t need sync sound you can just leave the audio module out altogether. On the other hand, if you need the power of the full camera system, it’s just a matter of plugging all the modules together a bit like lego! Of course as new technology comes along, that means you can add new modules as they become available. Perhaps all kinds of metadata will be available from the new MEMS chips and there will be new modules for that ...or an anti-grav module! Who knows what the future will bring?"
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+ - Dyson Patents Hint At 'Silent' Hair Dryer->

Submitted by dryriver
dryriver (1010635) writes "The Guardian reports: Whisper it, but it looks like Sir James Dyson – creator of the bladeless fan and bagless vacuum cleaner – is building a silent hair dryer. When Dyson, now 66, became frustrated with his wheelbarrow, he invented the 'Ballbarrow' – replacing the wheel with a ball so it would turn more easily. When he had to vacuum the house, his annoyance at conventional bag cleaners led to the invention of the Dyson cyclone cleaner. Possibly Dyson has become annoyed at the time and especially noise involved in drying his full head of hair. Diagrams that have surfaced at the UK's patents office show that his company has filed patents for 'a hand-held blower with an insulating chamber' – in other words, a hairdryer, which is already being dubbed 'the Hairblade', playing on the name of its Airblade hand dryer. Crucially, he seems to be aiming to make it much quieter than current models – rather as the Dyson bladeless fan is almost silent. Standard hairdryers are extremely loud, reaching up to 75 decibels – as loud as a vacuum cleaner, but held beside your head. The patents, which become public earlier this week, are surprisingly detailed, and show what looks like a hairdryer with an air chamber linked by two smaller cylinders to a smaller base unit. The air would flow through the two cylinders and into the base. The patent publication is a rare slip-up by Dyson, which goes to extraordinary lengths to keep its new products secret. It shrouded the launch of its most recent product – a combined tap-and-hand-dryer – in secrecy, demanding journalists sign non-disclosure agreements. Key among the phrases used in the application in the 56-page application show that it would have 'sound absorbing' and 'vibration absorbing' properties 'tuned to the resonant frequencies of the appliance2. Dyson has also focused on the safety aspect of hairdryers, where anything that gets sucked into the air intake can come into contact with the electrically heated wires which warm up the incoming air and cause a short circuit. It moves the warming element away from the air intake: 'if something is inserted into the appliance, it cannot contact the heater directly,' it says."
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+ - Samsung Offers To End Mobile Patent Wars->

Submitted by dryriver
dryriver (1010635) writes "The BBC reports: Samsung has said that it will stop taking rivals to court over certain patent infringements for the next five years. The white flag in the patent battle has been raised because the South Korean electronics firm faces a huge fine for alleged abuses of the system. The move could help end a long-running patent war between the world's largest mobile makers. The EU said that a resolution would bring 'clarity to the industry'. 'Samsung has offered to abstain from seeking injunctions for mobile SEPs (standard essential patents) for a period of five years against any company that agrees to a particular licensing framework,' the European Commission said in a statement. Standard essential patents refer to inventions recognised as being critical to implementing an industry standard technology. Examples of such technologies include the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS), a cellular standard at the heart of 3G data; and H.264, a video compression format used by YouTube, Blu-ray disks and Adobe Flash Player among others. The EU had accused the Samsung of stifling competition by bringing a series of SEP lawsuits against Apple and other rivals. Google's Motorola Mobility has been charged with similar anti-competitive practice. Samsung faced a $18.3bn (£11.3bn) fine if it was found guilty of breaching anti-trust laws. 'Enforcing patents through injunctions can be perfectly legitimate,' said Joaquin Almunia, the European Commission's vice-president in charge of competition policy. 'However, when patents are standard-essential, abuses must be prevented so that standard-setting works properly and consumers do not have to suffer negative consequences from the so-called patent wars. If we reach a good solution in this case, it will bring clarity to the industry,' he added."
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+ - LED Light Bulb Based 'Li-Fi' Closer, Say Chinese Scientists->

Submitted by dryriver
dryriver (1010635) writes "The BBC reports: Wi-fi connectivity from a light bulb — or 'li-fi' — has come a step closer, according to Chinese scientists. A microchipped bulb can produce data speeds of up to 150 megabits per second (Mbps), Chi Nan, IT professor at Shanghai's Fudan University told Xinhua News. A one-watt LED light bulb would be enough to provide net connectivity to four computers, researchers say. But experts told the BBC more evidence was needed to back up the claims. There are no supporting video or photos showing the technology in action. Li-fi, also known as visible light communications (VLC), at these speeds would be faster — and cheaper — than the average Chinese broadband connection. In 2011, Prof Harald Haas, an expert in optical wireless communications at the University of Edinburgh, demonstrated how an LED bulb equipped with signal processing technology could stream a high-definition video to a computer. He coined the term 'light fidelity' or li-fi and set up a private company, PureVLC, to exploit the technology. 'We're just as surprised as everyone else by this announcement,' PureVLC spokesman Nikola Serafimovski told the BBC. 'But how valid this is we don't know without seeing more evidence. We remain sceptical.' This year, the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute claimed that data rates of up to 1Gbit/s per LED light frequency were possible in laboratory conditions, making one bulb with three colours potentially capable of transmitting data at up to 3Gbit/s."
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