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Supercomputing

Roland Piquepaille Dies 288

overheardinpdx writes "I'm sad to report that longtime HPC technology pundit Roland Piquepaille (rpiquepa) died this past Tuesday. Many of you may know of him through his blog, his submissions to Slashdot, and his many years of software visualization work at SGI and Cray Research. I worked with Roland 20 years ago at Cray, where we both wrote tech stories for the company newsletter. With his focus on how new technologies modify our way of life, Roland was really doing Slashdot-type reporting before there was a World Wide Web. Rest in peace, Roland. You will be missed." The notice of Roland's passing was posted on the Cray Research alumni group on Linked-In by Matthias Fouquet-Lapar. There will be a ceremony on Monday Jan. 12, at 10:30 am Paris time, at Père Lachaise.
IT

Exchanging Pictures To Generate Passwords 123

Roland Piquepaille writes "Today, Ileana Buhan, a Romanian computer scientist, is presenting her PhD Thesis at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. She is using biometrics to protect confidential information when it is exchanged between two mobile devices. This is a very innovative approach to security. Buhan's biometric application will generate almost unbreakable passwords from photos taken by the connected users. Here is how it works. 'To do this, two users need to save their own photos on their PDAs. They then take photos of each other. The PDA compares the two photos and generates a security code for making a safe connection.'"
Input Devices

Ready for a CyberWalk? 69

Roland Piquepaille writes "Even with recent improvements in virtual reality technology, it's still almost impossible to physically walk through virtual environments. Now, European researchers have started a project named CyberWalk and they'll demonstrate next week their omni-directional treadmill, named CyberCarpet. According to ICT Results, the researchers 'had to address five key issues: providing a surface to walk on, controlling the surface in a way that minimized forces on the user, developing a non-intrusive tracking system, displaying a high-quality visualization, and ensuring a natural human perception of the virtual environment.' The researchers think that their new virtual environments would be used by architects and the gaming industry." Additional details are also available via the project website.
Privacy

University of Washington Tracking the Edge of Privacy 77

Roland Piquepaille writes "We've been told for several years that RFID tags would eventually be everywhere. This isn't the case yet, but researchers at the University of Washington would like to know if the future of social networking could be affected by these tags and check the balance between privacy and utility. They've deployed 200 antennas in one UW building and a dozen researchers are carrying RFID tags on them. According to the Seattle Times, all their moves are tracked every second in the building. Of course, it can be practical to know if a colleague is available for a cup of coffee but this kind of system (if in widespread use) has some serious implications. As the lead researcher said, 'what we want to understand is what makes it useful, what makes it threatening and how to balance the two.'"
Space

Introducing Magnet-Responsive Memory Foam 69

Roland Piquepaille writes "The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) has recently reported that two research teams have developed a new porous foam of an alloy that changes shape when exposed to a magnetic field. The NSF states that this new material is able to remember its original shape after it's been deformed by a physical or magnetic force. This polycrystalline nickel-manganese-gallium alloy is potentially cheaper and lighter than other materials currently used in devices ranging from sonar to precision valves. It also could be used to design biomedical pumps without moving parts and even for space applications and automobiles."

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