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Power

Submission + - Old Electric-Car Batteries Put into Service for Home Energy Storage

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Josie Garthwaite writes that old electric car batteries degraded below acceptable performance levels for autos still have enough life to serve the grid for at least ten years with a prototype announced by GM and ABB lashing five Chevy Volt battery packs together in an array with a capacity of 10 kilowatt-hours — enough to provide electricity for three to five average houses for two hours. "In a car, you want immediate power, and you want a lot of it," says Alexandra Goodson. "We're discharging for two hours instead of immediately accelerating. It's not nearly as demanding on the system." Deployed on the grid, community energy storage devices could help utilities integrate highly variable renewables like solar and wind into the power supply, while absorbing spikes in demand from electric-car charging. "Wind, it's a nightmare for grid operators to manage," says Britta Gross, director of global energy systems and infrastructure commercialization for GM. "It's up, down, it doesn't blow for three days. It's very labor-intensive to manage." The batteries would allow for storage of power during inexpensive periods for use during expensive peak demand, or help make up for gaps in solar, wind or other renewable power generation. One final advantage of re-using electric car batteries is that the battery—the most expensive part of an electric car—remains an asset beyond its useful life in the vehicle. "If there is a market in stationary power for spent batteries, consumers could recognize this as an increased resale value at end of life, however small," says Kevin See."
Databases

Submission + - Cheap GPU Accelerated Database System Competes With Top TPC-H Scores (nvidia.com) 1

An anonymous reader writes: Alenka is an open source SQL-lite database system that leverages CUDA to offload all of the query processing to NVIDIA GPUs. Newly published results show that an $800 desktop system (with an NVIDIA GTX580, and 1 120GB SSD) outperforms the top10 ranked $55,000 HP server with 2 Quad Core (3Ghz) Xeons, 144GB of RAM, and 12 60GB SSDs running Microsoft SQL Server 2008 in one query, and offers comparable performance in another.

To achieve these results, the author (Anton) recently updated the code with a new version that includes a faster implementation of database JOIN. The code leverages the Thrust library for fast SORT, SELECT, and SET parallel algorithms. It also uses the CUDPP library to implement a parallel hash JOIN.

While the codebase is not a complete implementation of SQL, it can execute several queries from TPC-H (an industry standard data-warehousing benchmark). For Query 1 (SELECT, GROUP-BY) Alenka processes a 100GB dataset in 9.5 seconds, compared to 42.3 seconds on the HP system. For Query 3 (JOIN, GROUP-BY, SORT), Alenka takes 5.3 seconds, compared to 4.3 seconds for the HP system.

It will be interesting to see if Alenka can offer similar results for the entire TPC-H benchmark suite, or if other database implementations can be accelerated by GPUs.

The source code for the Alenka system is available on github.

IOS

Submission + - iOS 6 Streaming Bug Sends Data Usage Skyrocketing (hothardware.com)

MojoKid writes: "iOS 6, by all appearances, has a streaming problem. This is separate from the network issues that led Verizon to state that it wouldn't bill people for overages that were caused by spotty Wi-Fi connectivity. The issue has been detailed at PRX.org with information on how the team saw a huge spike in bandwidth usage after the release of iOS 6, and then carefully tested the behavior of devices and its own app to narrow the possible cause. In one case, the playback of a single 30MB episode caused the transfer of over 100MB of data. It is believed that the issue was solved with the release of iOS 6.0.1, but anecdotal evidence from readers points to continued incidents of high data usage, even after updating. If you own an iPhone 5 or upgraded to iOS 6 on an older device, it is strongly recommend to check your usage over the past two months, update to iOS 6.0.1, and girding up for a lengthy discussion with your carrier if it turns out your data use went through the roof."
Communications

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Any Ways to Send Private Messages that are Free from Intrusion? 3

An anonymous reader writes: Are there any ways to exchange high-tech private messages that are secure from government intrusion? Recent news stories show that even powerful individuals are not immune to [sometimes warrantless] taps of their phone, SMS, email, or Dropbox-style messages. (Please don't say, "Yes there is a way, but if I told you I would have to kill you.")
Science

Submission + - Reading and calculating with your unconscious (medicalnewstoday.com)

lee1 writes: "Using special techniques that present information to one eye while hiding the information from the conscious mind (my masking it with more distracting imagery presented to the other eye), researchers have shown two new and very unexpected things: we can read and understand short sentences, and we can perform multi-step arithmetic problems, entirely unconsciously. The results of the reading and calculating are available to and influence the conscious mind, but we remain unaware of their existence. While we have known for some time that a great deal of sensory processing occurs below the surface and affects our deliberative behavior, it was widely believed until now that the subconscious was not able to actually do arithmetic or parse sentences."
NASA

Submission + - The downside of warp drives: Annihilating whole star systems when you arrive (extremetech.com)

MrSeb writes: "The dream of faster-than-light travel has been on the mind of humanity for generations. Until recently, though, it was restricted to the realm of pure science fiction. Theoretical mechanisms for warp drives have been posited by science, some of which actually jive quite nicely with what we know of physics. Of course, that doesn't mean they’re actually going to work, though. NASA researchers recently revisited the Alcubierre warp drive and concluded that its power requirements were not as impossible as once thought. However, a new analysis from the University of Sydney claims that using a warp drive of this design comes with a drawback. Specifically, it could cause cataclysmic explosions at your destination."
Microsoft

Submission + - German city says OpenOffice shortcomings are forcing it back to Microsoft (arnnet.com.au)

An anonymous reader writes: "In the specific case of the use of OpenOffice, the hopes and expectations of the year 2007 are not fulfilled," the council wrote, adding that continuing use OpenOffice will lead to performance impairments and aggravation and frustration on the part of employees and external parties.

"Therefore, a new Microsoft Office license is essential for effective operations," they wrote. ...

"The divergence of the development community (LibreOffice on one hand Apache Office on the other) is crippling for the development for OpenOffice," the council wrote, adding that the development of Microsoft Office is far more stable. Looking at the options, a one-product strategy with Microsoft Office 2010 is the only viable one, according to the council.

Education

Submission + - Indian school textbook says meat-eaters lie and commit sex crimes (bbc.co.uk)

another random user writes: Meat-eaters "easily cheat, lie, forget promises and commit sex crimes", according to a controversial school textbook available in India.

New Healthway, a book on hygiene and health aimed at 11 and 12 year-olds, is printed by one of India's leading publishers.

"This is poisonous for children," Janaki Rajan of the Faculty of Education at Jamia Millia University in Delhi told the BBC. "The government has the power to take action, but they are washing their hands of it," she said.

"The strongest argument that meat is not essential food is the fact that the Creator of this Universe did not include meat in the original diet for Adam and Eve. He gave them fruits, nuts and vegetables," reads a chapter entitled Do We Need Flesh Food?

The chapter details the "benefits" of a vegetarian diet and goes on to list "some of the characteristics" found among non-vegetarians. "They easily cheat, tell lies, forget promises, they are dishonest and tell bad words, steal, fight and turn to violence and commit sex crimes," it says.

The chapter, full of factual inaccuracies, refers to Eskimos (Inuit) as "lazy, sluggish and short-lived", because they live on "a diet largely of meat". It adds: "The Arabs who helped in constructing the Suez Canal lived on wheat and dates and were superior to the beef-fed Englishmen engaged in the same work."

Piracy

Submission + - Verizon to choke pirates' browsing speeds (bbc.co.uk)

another random user writes: US net firm Verizon has declared war on illegal downloaders, or pirates, who use technologies such as BitTorrent to steal copyrighted material.

Verizon has said it will first warn repeat offenders by email and voicemail. Then it will restrict or "throttle" their internet connection speeds.

Time Warner Cable, another US internet service provider pledging to tackle piracy, says it will use pop-up warnings to deter repeat offenders. After that it will restrict subscribers' web browsing activities by redirecting them to a landing page.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which campaigns for digital freedom, is highly critical of the imminent campaign, saying: "Big media companies are launching a massive peer-to-peer surveillance scheme to snoop on subscribers." ISPs will be acting as "Hollywood's private enforcement arm", it added.

Linux

Submission + - Valve's Steam License Causes Linux Packaging Concerns (phoronix.com) 2

skade88 writes: With the Linux Steam beta giving Ubuntu and it's large user base all the love, other Linux gamers are understandably wanting to let in on the fun. For the beta, Valve has provided Steam as a Debian package. Many hungry Linux gamers have reported that they have have Steam running on their fav. distro, but that still leaves the legal debate. What is the legal threshold needed to get Steam in the repos of your fav. flavor of Linux? Will Valve's one-size-fits-every-OS license be flexible to work on Linux or will it kill/Delay the dream of a viable gaming world for Linux? We are so close to bridging the last major hurdle in finally realizing the year of the Linux desktop: Gaming. Lets hope the FOSS community and Valve can play together so we all win.
Crime

Submission + - Website Calls Out Authors of Racist Anti-Obama Posts (cnsmaryland.org)

stevegee58 writes: A tumblr blog entitled "hellothereracists" is publicly identifying other online posters who make racist/assassination comments about President Obama.
Beyond merely identifying online usernames, the blog's author is uncovering and publishing the real names and locations of offending posters.
It's an interesting mess of legal issues. The outed posters are at risk of a Secret Service visit, but the trouble may not end there. The hellothereracists blogger himself may have some problems publicly posters who are frequently underage teenagers.

Science

Submission + - Dutch Artist 3D Prints CT Scan of His Own Skeleton (gizmag.com)

Zothecula writes: In what could be described as the ultimate memento mori – a genre of art that reminds us of our own mortality – Dutch sculpture Caspar Berger has reproduced an exact copy of his own skeleton. He underwent a CT scan, which provided detailed anatomical data, which was then output on a 3D printer.

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