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Submission + - Own an Open Source RISC-V micro-controller (crowdsupply.com)

hamster_nz writes: By now you have come across Arduino, the popular Open Source micro-controller platform. Did you ever think it would be great if hardware was open to the transistor level, not just the chip level? If so Crowd Supply is running the project for you!

With a completely open ISA and no license fees for the CPU design, the RISC-V architecture is well positioned to take the crown as the 'go to' design for anybody needing a 32-bit in their silicon, and Open-V are crowd-sourcing their funding for an initial manufacturing run of 70,000 chips, offering options from a single chip to a seat in the design review process.

This project is shaping up to be milestone for the coming Open Source Silicon revolution, and they are literally offering a seat at the table. Even if you don't end up backing the project, it makes for very interesting reading.

Submission + - Aphantasia - not having a mind's eye. (bbc.com)

hamster_nz writes: Picture something in your mind's eye — maybe a face of a loved one. Mozilla founder Blake Ross can't — and nor can I. When I close my eyes and all I see is the dark inside of my eyelids — apparently most of you don't, and can 'see' mental images of anything you think of!

Although talked about in the late 1880s but has remained largely unstudied until the last year it has been given the name — 'Aphantasia'. I guess that explains my love of non-fiction and technology... and my complete apathy towards Lord of the Rings.

I wonder if it is common among Slashdot readers? Does not requiring a 'mental canvas' have any implication for machine learning and AI?

Submission + - Engineers Plan the Most Expensive Object Ever Built on Earth

HughPickens.com writes: Ed Davey has an interesting story at BBC about the proposed nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset , UK which at $35 billion will be the most expensive object ever put together on Earth. For that sum you could build a small forest of Burj Khalifas — the world's tallest building, in Dubai, which each cost $1.5bn, you could build almost six Large Hadron Colliders, built under the border between France and Switzerland to unlock the secrets of the universe, and at a cost a mere $5.8bn, or you could build five Oakland Bay Bridges in San Francisco, designed to withstand the strongest earthquake seismologists would expect within the next 1,500 years at a cost of $6.5bn. "Nuclear power plants are the most complicated piece of equipment we make," says Steve Thomas. "Cost of nuclear power plants has tended to go up throughout history as accidents happen and we design measures to deal with the risk."

But what about historical buildings like the the pyramids. Although working out the cost of something built more than 4,500 years ago presents numerous challenges, in 2012 the Turner Construction Company estimated it could build the Great Pyramid of Giza for $5.0bn. That includes about $730m for stone and $58m for 12 cranes. Labor is a minor cost as it is projected that a mere 600 staff would be necessary. In contrast, it took 20,000 people to build the original pyramid with a total of 77.6 million days' labor. Using the current Egyptian minimum wage of $5.73 a day, that gives a labor cost of $445m. But whatever the most expensive object on Earth is, up in the sky is something that eclipses all of these things. The International Space Station. Price tag: $110bn.

Submission + - Computational Photography Shows Hi-Res Mars And "lost" Beagle 2 (i-programmer.info)

mikejuk writes: Computational photographic is amazing, but sometimes you have to wonder if it is actually useful and not just amusing. Proving that it is, researchers have found a way to extract high-resolution images from multiple low-resolution images of the Martian surface. These are good enough almost to see the lost Beagle 2 lander clearly.
The technique was applied to photos from the HiRISE camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter 300km above the red planet's surface. These low-resolution images provide a view of objects as small as 25cm. but by combining eight repeat passes over Gusev Crater, where the Spirit rover left tracks, the resolution could be increased to 5cm. The processing time was in the order of 24 hours for a 2048x1024 tile. Because of the time it takes a full HiRISE image hasn't been processed as yet. This should become possible when the program extended to make use of a GPU.
The method was applied to the proposed crash site of the Beagle 2 lander. In case you have forgotten, the Beagle 2 was a novel lander designed to test for life which should have transmitted a signal on Christmas day 2003, but was never heard from. A possible crash site was spotted twelve years later as a bright dot in a HiRISE image. The constructed higher resolution version starts to show the characteristic shape of the space craft.

Submission + - SWIFT hack: Two bytes to $951M (blogspot.co.uk)

An anonymous reader writes: In February 2016 one of the largest cyber heists was committed and subsequently disclosed. An unknown attacker gained access to the Bangladesh Bank’s (BB) SWIFT payment system and reportedly instructed an American bank to transfer money from BB’s account to accounts in The Philippines. The attackers attempted to steal $951m, of which $81m is still unaccounted for.

Submission + - Austrian photographer sues hotel chain for â2m for copyright breach (derstandard.at) 2

Unhappy Windows User writes: An Austrian photographer was contracted by the luxury Sofitel in Vienna to photograph the bar with an amazing view over the skyline. He was paid for his time (â4200) and arranged a three year internal usage contract for the photos. After the contract expired, he still found his photos being used — on external sites too. He is now suing for â2million, based on each individual usage.

My question is: Is this the real market value of his work? There is nothing particularly creative or spectacular about his contribution — any competent photographer could have done the same. I know art galleries often charge high amounts for reprints of their work by controlling access to who gets to photograph it under which conditions. It seems like the largest economic contribution to the work was from Sofitel, who allowed access to the property and closed it to customers.

I don't have any issue in a photographer wanting to be paid fairly for his work, and asking for perhaps double or treble the original price for the breach of contract to match what an unlimited license would have costed. After all, with this money they could have employed a professional for a month and automatically obtained full rights to the work.

Any other competent photographer could have done the job just as well (and perhaps have done a better job on correcting the pincushion distortion!), but it seems like this guy is trying to take advantage of an oversight by a large corporation, never to have to work again.

What do you think?

Submission + - Building a global network of open source SDR receivers (jks.com)

hamster_nz writes: A fellow Kiwi is attempting to crowdfund a world-wide network of Open Source Software Defined Radio receivers. Once in place this will allow anybody anywhere in the world to scan the 0 to 30MHz RF spectrum from the comfort of their HTML-5 web browser. Built on top of the Beaglebone, the "KiwiSDR" RF board also includes a GPS receiver front-end, which will allow timing between receivers to be correlated, giving a lot of options for projects, like: long baseline interferometry and lightning detection. Prototypes are already deployed, and I've been RXing in Sweden, Australia and New Zealand.

The KiwiSDR design is detailed on http://www.jks.com/KiwiSDR/, as is a link to the project's Kickstarter page.

Comment Re:adults across the U.S. are strapping on helmets (Score 1) 696

Not so fast... There is research that indicates that people putting helmets on changes driver behaviour.


Cyclists who wear protective helmets are more likely to be struck by passing vehicles, new research suggests.

Drivers pass closer when overtaking cyclists wearing helmets than when overtaking bare-headed cyclists, increasing the risk of a collision, the research has found.

Dr Ian Walker, a traffic psychologist from the University of Bath, used a bicycle fitted with a computer and an ultrasonic distance sensor to record data from over 2,500 overtaking motorists in Salisbury and Bristol.

Dr Walker, who was struck by a bus and a truck in the course of the experiment, spent half the time wearing a cycle helmet and half the time bare-headed. He was wearing the helmet both times he was struck.

He found that drivers were as much as twice as likely to get particularly close to the bicycle when he was wearing the helmet.

Across the board, drivers passed an average of 8.5 cm (3 1/3 inches) closer with the helmet than without

The research has been accepted for publication in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention.

Submission + - Learn FPGAs with a $25 board and Open Source Tools (hackaday.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Hackaday has a 3 part tutorial with videos of using open source tools with a cheap ($25) FPGA board. The board isn't very powerful, but this could be the "gateway drug" to FPGAs for people who don't want to spend hundreds of dollars and install 100s of megabytes of software and license keys just to get their feet wet. The videos are particularly good--like watching them over their shoulder. As far as I know, this is the only totally open source FPGA toolchain out there.

Comment Use storage level services. (Score 1) 219

If you want to keep your data on-site, unless your already have a lot of the infrastructure that you can leverage the path of least resistance is to use something like a NetApp Filer.

For backups it can create snapshots on a schedule (hourly/daily/weekly), then either replicate them to a second physical storage unit (hopefully at a different site) or present them to your backup solution.

Using the file services on the NetApp will also provide a solution to your "how do I present it to the storage consumers" question - iSCSI, CIFS with domain integration, NFS, Fibre Channel... You also get storage level de-duplication and compression, if that works for your data.

Of course you will pay what seems like a lot for it, but it does solve a lot of your problems in one unit. How much will it save in servers, backup capacity, a multi-drive tape library, daily visits to the server room to reload tapes and so on.

But if your data center isn't up to providing the level of availability you want then any hardware solution is going to be problematic - large storage systems do not like having the power pulled out from under them. Minimum is dual-redundant UPS power and fault tolerant cooling, or you will most likely have problems.

Comment The ultimate ugly hack? (Score 5, Insightful) 264

Fast inverse square root (sometimes referred to as Fast InvSqrt() or by the hexadecimal constant 0x5f3759df) is a method of calculating x1/2, the reciprocal (or multiplicative inverse) of a square root for a 32-bit floating point number in IEEE 754 floating point format.


Anybody got any better Ugly Hacks to share?

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The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. -- Niels Bohr