Tech Today w/ Ken May

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alphadogg (971356) writes with news that the SSA has joined the long list of federal agencies with giant failed IT projects. From the article: “Six years ago the Social Security Administration embarked on an aggressive plan to replace outdated computer systems overwhelmed by a growing flood of disability claims. Nearly $300 million later, the new system is nowhere near ready and agency officials are struggling to salvage a project racked by delays and mismanagement, according to an internal report commissioned by the agency. In 2008, Social Security said the project was about two to three years from completion. Five years later, it was still two to three years from being done, according to the report by McKinsey and Co., a management consulting firm. Today, with the project still in the testing phase, the agency can’t say when it will be completed or how much it will cost. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Despite their inefficiency, old-school incandescent lightbulbs sure did put out a pleasant, natural-looking light. The folks at Finally Light Bulb missed that light, so they brought it back with an efficient, affordable bulb using technology Nikola Tesla once patented. The team visited Gizmodo’s NYC office to show us the light. Read more…

GOG.com Announces Linux Support

Posted by kenmay on July - 24 - 2014

For years, Good Old Games has made a business out of selling classic PC game titles completely free of DRM. Today they announced that their platform now supports Linux. They said, We’ve put much time and effort into this project and now we’ve found ourselves with over 50 titles, classic and new, prepared for distribution, site infrastructure ready, support team trained and standing by … We’re still aiming to have at least 100 Linux games in the coming months, but we’ve decided not to delay the launch just for the sake of having a nice-looking number to show off to the press. … Note that we’ve got many classic titles coming officially to Linux for the very first time, thanks to the custom builds prepared by our dedicated team of penguin tamers. … For both native Linux versions, as well as special builds prepared by our team, GOG.com will provide distro-independent tar.gz archives and support convenient DEB installers for the two most popular Linux distributions: Ubuntu and Mint, in their current and future LTS editions. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

On the Origins of Sriracha

Posted by kenmay on July - 24 - 2014

It was invented by Thanom Chakkapak in the seaside town of Si Racha—that sauce, however, isn’t quite the same as the stuff you know and love.

Future phones could house a terabyte of memory

Posted by kenmay on July - 24 - 2014

You may think that the 3GB of memory in your new smartphone is hot stuff, but that pales in comparison with what Rice University has in store. Its scientists have detailed a form of resistive RAM (RRAM) that can be made using regular equipment at room temperatures, making it practical for everyday gadgets. The trick is the use of porous silicon oxide where metals (such as gold or platinum) fill the gaps. Using the silicon material doesn’t just give manufacturers something familiar to work with; it requires much less power than previous techniques, can last through 100 times as many uses and isn’t fazed by heat. It’s also far denser than earlier RRAM, storing nine bits per cell where even conventional flash storage stops at three. The result should be an easy-to-make RAM chip with the kind of capacity that you’d normally expect from much larger permanent storage, like an SSD — as the company Crossbar hinted when it first discussed this approach, you could stuff 1TB into a component the size of a postage stamp. That’s just about ideal for mobile devices, and could mean that future phones and tablets won’t have to worry about low memory errors for a long, long time. Crossbar’s technology is due in later this year in chips destined for embedded uses like appliances and cars, so the breakthrough won’t be noticeable at first. Research lead James Tour tells MIT that he expects a deal with an unnamed manufacturer in the next couple of weeks, though, so it’s entirely possible that this super-capacious memory will become commonplace. Filed under: Storage , Science , Mobile Comments Via: MIT Technology Review Source: Rice University

We’re not sure how many of the new Oculus Rift VR kits have shipped out to developers already , but it looks like a healthy amount are in San Diego right now. That’s where Comic-Con is happening this week and, following the X-Men VR demo we already heard about, Legendary Pictures and Oculus have teamed up for Pacific Rim: Jaeger Pilot . It lets attendees take control of the 250-foot tall Jaeger “Gipsy Danger” (no drift connection necessary) and do battle in a virtual reality combat simulator against the kaiju Knifehead (the first one you see in the movie). The whole experience is built in Unreal Engine 4 using the same assets Industrial Light & Magic worked with for the movie. Sure, you’ve seen the movie, and maybe even in IMAX 3D, but we’re pretty sure even Guillermo del Toro’s directing tricks can’t add up to feeling like you’re there, fighting an 8, 700 ton monster off the coast of Alaska. It’s all in Legendary’s booth #3920 for all four days the show is open, from Thursday through Sunday. Don’t have a ticket? There’s a video preview embedded after the break, but it can’t compare to diving into a VR world with Oculus — maybe we’ll be able to enjoy it at home by April 2017 when Pacific Rim 2 arrives. Join the fight! ‘Drift with the Rift’ exclusively at the @Legendary booth (#3920) & prepare to pilot a 250ft Jaeger. http://t.co/C6CeXE7ldp – Legendary (@Legendary) July 24, 2014 Filed under: Displays , Gaming , Home Entertainment , HD Comments Source: Legendary Pictures (YouTube) , Legendary.com

 Qblinks wants to be the Swiss Army knife of iPhone remote controllers. The Bluetooth LE device, which is currently seeking $35, 000 on Kickstarter, can be used to alert you to notifications from different apps on your smartphone; as a camera remote shutter; to activate Siri; play music; and help you find missing phones by prompting it to ring even when it is in silent mode. Qblinks even has… Read More

When it came to life on Mars , NASA might have struck out, but it’s got a good feeling about Europa . The agency is working on a probe designed to scan its vast oceans for signs of alien life, but there’s a problem, namely the 30 feet of ice that covers the moon’s surface.That’s where VALKYRIE comes in, a torpedo-shaped robot that’ll suck up water, warm it and fire it back into the ice to quickly and easily drill through the layer. Once the hardware reaches its destination, it’ll release a swarm of smaller ‘bots that’ll map the geography and hunt for alien microbes. There’s still a few issues to work out with the gear, like the fact that it can’t properly change course while tunneling, which would be pretty essential if it were to come across a rock or other blockage. Then again, given that we won’t be ready to launch a mission to Jupiter’s moon until the early 2020′s, NASA’s got some time to fix the problems. Filed under: Robots , Transportation , Science , Alt Comments Via: Gizmodo Source: New Scientist

Pirate Bay traffic doubles over three years

Posted by kenmay on July - 24 - 2014

It’s probably the most censored site on the Internet, blocked by national firewalls all over the world, but more people use it every day. Read the rest

Dropbox Head Responds To Snowden Claims About Privacy

Posted by kenmay on July - 24 - 2014

First time accepted submitter Carly Page writes When asked for its response to Edward Snowden’s claims that “Dropbox is hostile to privacy”, Dropbox told The INQUIRER that users concerned about privacy should add their own encryption. The firm warned however that if users do, not all of the service’s features will work. Head of Product at Dropbox for Business Ilya Fushman says: “We have data encrypted on our servers. We think of encryption beyond that as a users choice. If you look at our third-party developer ecosystem you’ll find many client-side encryption apps….It’s hard to do things like rich document rendering if they’re client-side encrypted. Search is also difficult, we can’t index the content of files. Finally, we need users to understand that if they use client-side encryption and lose the password, we can’t then help them recover those files.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.