Submission + - Book Review: "USB: The Universal Serial Bus" (cableone.net)

An anonymous reader writes: Have you ever wondered exactly what happens when you plug a USB device into one of those ports on your PC? How does the computer know that it is a keyboard, mouse, external hard drive, or camera? How does the computer know if it is a low-, full-, high-, or super-speed device? What is the difference anyway?

Sure, I can let the latest operating system do the work for me, but what if the platform I am targeting is very low on resources and I must write the drivers myself? How do I even attempt to read that file from my pen-drive, capture that picture from my USB camera, or even grab a key from this keyboard? Maybe like many others, I just want to do it myself anyway. Remember when we use to take dad’s drill apart to see how it worked?

These questions were asked many years ago when the first USB controllers were starting to show. What kind of controllers were used and how do I access them. Another mystery, the idea of how I could plug a mouse into the port and the computer would know what it was without ever installing a driver.

All of these questions inspired the book, “USB: The Universal Serial Bus”. Within the pages of this book, the author explains the ins and outs (pun intended) and how to communicate with an attached device, starting with programming the PCI(e) interface.

Once a controller is found and identified, the process to reset and start the controller, creating a USB stack, and finally sending and receiving packets from attached devices, is explained.

This book also has many examples, with detailed diagrams, of many different types of control, interrupt, and bulk delivery devices. Along with the body of text are side-notes, or tidbits if you will, quirks, errors, and less documented items about the USB, a brief history, code examples, and many tables and figures to explain the process from connection to an operational ready to use device.

The text is written so that the reader needs very little knowledge of operating system programming and shows how to accomplish the task at hand with no outside help. In other words, it is not dependent on any existing operating systems. The only operating system dependency is the ability to view the files on the included disc, and if the example code is executed, the ability boot the included FreeDOS (http://www.freedos.org/) floppy disk image.

What? I can hear it already, “who has a floppy disk drive?” The advantage we have today is the ability to emulate whole operating systems. When the author was doing research for the book, he wrote a majority of the core USB code within the Bochs emulator (http://bochs.sourceforge.net/). The current code, thanks to others that have helped, will emulate the needed floppy drive, but more importantly, will emulate a UHCI controller interface along with the new xHCI Super Speed controller interface and a few attached devices. Of course it is not perfect, but it does do a fine job for those needing to use an emulator for their work.

In conclusion, if you ever wanted to work with the bare-bones USB hardware, for work or play, the text within this book will get you started, and started fairly quickly. It is easy to follow, shows step-by-step procedures to get a working USB stack in all four major controller interfaces, the UHCI, OHCI, EHCI, and the new Super Speed xHCI controller.

For more information, please visit


or visit your online retail book store.

Open Source

Submission + - Linux 3.8 released

diegocg writes: Linux kernel 3.8 has been released. This release includes support in Ext4 for embedding very small files in the inode, which greatly improves the performance for these files and saves some disk space. There is also a new Btrfs feature that allows to replace quickly a disk, a new filesystem F2FS optimized for SSDs, support of filesystem mount, UTS, IPC, PID, and network namespaces for unprivileged users, accounting of kernel memory in the memory resource controller, journal checksums in XFS, an improved NUMA policy redesign and, of course, the removal of support for 386 processors. Many small features and new drivers and fixes are also available. Here's the full list of changes.
Open Source

Submission + - Linux 3.8 released (kernelnewbies.org)

jrepin writes: "Linux Torvalds has just announced the release of Linux 3.8. Some of the headline features in this release include metadata integrity checking in the xfs filesystem, the foundation for much improved NUMA scheduling, kernel memory usage accounting and associated usage limits, inline data support for small files in the ext4 filesystem, nearly complete user namespace support, and much more. See the Kernel Newbies 3.8 page for lots of details."

Submission + - New 'Zombie' Cells Outperform the Living in the Lab

An anonymous reader writes: For all fans that follow The Walking Dead, it turns out the dead may indeed outperform the living. Scientists have created "zombie" mammalian cells that function better after they die. Although creating "zombie" cells may seem like a dubious endeavor, it has quite a few practical applications. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories and the University of New Mexico coated a cell with a silica solution. This created a near-perfect replica of the structure that could simplify a wide variety of commercial fabrication processes. In fact, the process allowed the researchers to preserve cells down to the minor grooves of its DNA.

Submission + - SSD Write Endurance Considered... Sufficient (ef.gy)

jyujin writes: Ever wonder how long your SSD will last? It's funny how bad people are at estimating just how long "100,000 writes" are going to take when spread over a device that spans several thousand of those blocks over several gigabytes of memory. It obviously gets far worse with newer flash memory that is able to withstand a whopping million writes per cell. So yeah, let's crunch some numbers and fix that misconception. Spoiler: even at the maximum SATA 3.0 link speeds, you'd still find yourself waiting several months or even years for that SSD to start dying on you.

Submission + - Naked scammers blackmail men on web (cnn.com)

innocent_white_lamb writes: Police in Singapore have received many reports of a blackmail ring that uses attractive women to seduce men via webcam/chat. "They would commence a webcam conversation with the victims and initiate cybersex by undressing themselves first before persuading the male victims to appear nude or perform sexual acts in front of the webcams", according to the Singapore Police Force. The victim then received an email and/or phone call demanding $50,000.

Submission + - GameStop's Mayan Apocalypse (goozernation.com)

kube00 writes: The rumor mill is saying the next generation of consoles might not play used games. What does this mean for retailers such as Amazon, GameStop, and Best Buy? Will gamers flock to the one console that can still play used games? GoozerNation speculates if the Mayan apocalyspse draws near for used game sales

Submission + - Canonical Announcing Ubuntu Tablet Tomorrow? (paritynews.com)

hypnosec writes: While browsing for clues on Ubuntu Touch Developer preview, we have come across something rather interesting. Canonical has a countdown going on up at its site that indicates a possible tablet announcement sometime tomorrow. With the Ubuntu Touch developer preview launching this week, the announcement about a tablet or at least an operating system for a tablet from Canonical has, it seems, taken a backseat. From the countdown that reads "Tick, tock, tablet time!" it is evident that Canonical is going to make some announcement about tablets tomorrow.

Submission + - U.S. Joins Google, Microsoft in "Brain Race" (slashdot.org)

Nerval's Lobster writes: "Decades after the space race pitted the United States against Russia, a new race has emerged: the race to map the human brain. The New York Times reported Feb. 18 that the Obama administration is gearing up to announce the Brain Activity Map project, an effort to map an active human brain that could give new insight into how neurons interact with each other, providing new avenues of research for diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The U.S. will apparently pit itself against a collection of European research agencies that have announced similar projects. The U.S. effort, however, will apparently involve U.S. businesses, which would naturally benefit from the high-profile nature of the effort; in theory, the latter could also apply the resulting discoveries to their own computing efforts. The Times reported that representatives from Google, Microsoft, and Qualcomm met with government representatives at the California Institute of Technology to try and figure out whether or not there are sufficient computing resources to process the vast amounts of data that the experiments are expected to produce, or whether new ones would need to be built."

Submission + - Facebook Hacks Points to Much Bigger Threat for Mobile Developers (ibtimes.co.uk)

DavidGilbert99 writes: "Facebook admitted last weekend that it was hacked but assured everyone that no data was compromised. However following some investigation by security firm F-Secure, it seems this could be just the tip of the iceberg and that thousands of mobile app developers without the dedicated security team Facebook has in place could already be compromised.

The vector for the attack was a mobile developer's website, and the malware used likely targeted Apple's Mac OS X rather than Windows. Why? Because MacBook's are the laptop of choice of any discerning Silicon Valley engineer/developer."


Submission + - Halo Developer, Bungie Reveals "Destiny" and Its Vision of MMO Gaming (hothardware.com)

MojoKid writes: "Bungie, the company that brought forth Halo, is embarking on development of a new MMO title called "Destiny" that is aimed at being unlike any gaming experience we’ve seen. There are few hard details available, such as a launch date or pricing, but Bungie gave a preview that teases the game and showed off concept art. It’s a large-scale MMO set in a post-apocalyptic world, but the gameplay and social interaction is supposed to be far more natural and fluid than previous generation MMOs. There will apparently not be a subscription model, so gamers won’t have monthly fees to deal with, either. Bungie plans to develop a complex storyline with Destiny over the course of the next decade. There will be 10 books, complete with a story arc, so it follows that the world will evolve in a manner of speaking even as people participate in activities to change things within it."

Submission + - Google looks to cut funds to illegal sites (telegraph.co.uk)

rbrandis writes: Google is in discussions with payment companies including Visa, Mastercard and PayPal to put illegal download websites out of existence by cutting off their funding. If Google goes ahead with the radical move, it would not mark the first time that illegal websites have been diminished or driven out of business by having a block put on their source of cash.

Submission + - Scientists studying the structure of viruses in greater detail. (diamond.ac.uk)

An anonymous reader writes: Scientists at the UK's national synchrotron facility are studying the structure of Containment Level 3 pathogens such as Aids, Flu and Hepatitis.

They use high intensity X-Rays to study the atomic and molecular structure of pathogens too small to be examined under a microscope. This leads to a greater understanding of how they work. They have already produced results on the hand, foot and mouth virus. This is the first time Level 3 pathogens have been imaged in this way.


Submission + - Is "Left" vs. "Right" hard-coded into your brains? (smithsonianmag.com) 2

kyjellyfish writes: Research published in the journal PLOS ONE (http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2013/02/study-predicts-political-beliefs-with-83-percent-accuracy/?utm_source=smithsoniantopic&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20130217-Weekender), suggests that your parents "Left" or "Right" party affiliations are not the only factor at work shaping a person’s political identity. Differences in opinion between "Lefty's" and "Righty's" may reflect specific physiological processes, and claim that politics isn’t the only influence causing structural changes in the brain. In research performed over 10 years ago, brain scans showed that London cab drivers’ gray matter grew larger to help them store a mental map of the city.

Submission + - Google's Retail Stores Will Help it Reclaim Android (ibtimes.co.uk)

DavidGilbert99 writes: "The state of Android at the moment is a bit of a mess. It is available on thousands of different devices in hundred of countries with each looking slightly ( or in some cases significantly) different from the original.

Google has attempted to show off what plain ole Android can do with its Nexus smartphones and tablets, but the devices have gotten lost in the flood of Sony Xperias, HTC Ones and of course Samsung Galaxys.

Therefore, reports that it will open its own retail stores is good news for the platform, as Google will be able to showcase how well the 'pure' Android experience works and customers will be able to see clearly what Android is and what it does."


Submission + - Interactive Tool Visualizes Tolkien's Works (lotrproject.com)

dsjodin writes: Last year, LotrProject brought us extraordinary statistics on the population of Middle-Earth. Now, they have released an interactive tool for analysis of the Silmarillion, the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. With keyword frequency search, character mentions, sentiment analysis and network diagrams of character interactions it is a beautiful set of data visualizations and fascinating for fans and non-fans alike. The site can for example be used to find out that bacon is mentioned seven times in the Hobbit while only two times throughout the entire the Lord of the Rings.

Submission + - Are Plastic-Bag Bans Really Killing People?

theodp writes: A paper by Wharton’s Jonathan Klick and Joshua Wright suggested that San Francisco’s eco-friendly ban on plastic bags might actually be killing people. Klick and Wright found that food-borne illnesses in San Francisco increased 46% after the bag ban went into effect in 2007, with no such uptick in neighboring counties. Most likely, the authors concluded, this was due to the fact that people were putting their food into dirty reusable bags and not washing them afterward. But Tomas Aragon, an epidemiologist at UC Berkeley and health officer for the city of San Francisco, begs to differ, arguing that in order to establish a link between the bag ban and illnesses, the authors would have to show that the same people who are using reusable bags are also the ones getting sick. Aragon offers an alternative hypothesis for the recent rise in deaths related to intestinal infections, noting that a large portion of the cases in San Francisco involve C. difficile enterocolitis, a disease that’s often coded as food-borne illness in hospitals which has become more common in lots of places since 2005, all around the U.S., Canada, and Europe (for yet-unexplained reasons). 'The increase in San Francisco,' he suggests, 'probably reflects this international increase.'

Submission + - New Whale Species Unearthed in California Highway Dig (sciencemag.org) 1

sciencehabit writes: Thanks to a highway-widening project in California’s Laguna Canyon, scientists have identified several new species of early toothed baleen whales. The new fossils date to 17 to 19 million years ago, or the early-mid Miocene epoch, making them the youngest known toothed whales. Three of the fossils belong to the genus Morawanocetus, which is familiar to paleontologists studying whale fossils from Japan, but hadn’t been seen before in California. These three, along with the fourth new species, which is of a different genus, represent the last known occurrence of aetiocetes, a family of mysticetes that coexisted with early baleen whales. Thus, they aren’t ancestral to any of the living whales, but they could represent transitional steps on the way to today's whales.

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