Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for the ‘reader’ Category

The Syndaver is a super-realistic robotic human corpse simulator with replaceable viscera that med students can dissect again and again, freeing them to use the donated bodies of people who willed their remains to science for med school pranks, like sneaking them into the alumni dinner in a tuxedo. (more…)

Categories: reader

The Property and Evidence Tracking System (PETS) is the NYPD’s huge database where it stores ownership information on the millions in New Yorkers’ property it takes charge of every year (including about $68m in cash and counting), through evidence collection and asset forfeiture. (more…)

Categories: reader

An anonymous reader writes: Earlier today, Google released version 62 of its Chrome browser that comes with quite a few new features but also fixes for 35 security issues. The most interesting new features are support for OpenType variable fonts, the Network Quality Estimator API, the ability to capture and stream DOM elements, and HTTP warnings for the browser’s Normal and Incognito mode. The most interesting of the new features is variable fonts. Until now, web developers had to load multiple font families whenever they wanted variations on a font family. For example, if a developer was using the Open Sans font family on a site, if he wanted a font variation such as Regular, Bold, Black, Normal, Condensed, Expanded, Highlight, Slab, Heavy, Dashed, or another, he’d have to load a different font file for each. OpenType variable fonts allow font makers to merge all these font family variations in one file that developers can use on their site and control via CSS. This results in fewer files loaded on a website, saving bandwidth and improving page load times. Two other features that will interest mostly developers are the Network Quality Estimator and the Media Capture from DOM Elements APIs. As the name hints, the first grants developers access to network speed and performance metrics, information that some websites may use to adapt video streams, audio quality, or deliver low-fi versions of their sites. Developers can use the second API — the Media Capture from DOM Elements — to record videos of how page sections behave during interaction and stream the content over WebRTC. This latter API could be useful for developers debugging a page, but also support teams that want to see what’s happening on the user’s side. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: reader

Zero’s latest electric motorcycles can recharge in an hour

Posted by kenmay on October - 19 - 2017

Zero Motorcycles’ electric bikes can be fun to ride , but recharging is another matter entirely. It’s tough to wait hours when all you want to do is go back on the open road. That shouldn’t be such a problem with the company’s just-introduced 2018 models. If you use a 6kW Charge Tank accessory with the newest Zero S, SR, DS and DSR, you can charge up to six times faster — as little as an hour for the S or DS ZF7.2 when you plug into an ordinary Level 1 outlet. Models with larger batteries can still top up in two hours if you use a Level 2 EV charger. Neither charging rate is as speedy as filling a gas tank, of course, but they’re fast enough that you could come home with a low battery and head out again after dinner. The new e-motorbikes should be more exciting rides, too. If you have the ZF7.2 power pack, you should get 11 percent more rear-wheel torque. The powertrains, meanwhile, have been tweaked to supply up to 30 percent more power and torque. Combine these with up to 10 percent added range on the ZF7.2 and ZF14.4 batteries (up to 223 miles) and you should have an easier time overtaking big rigs on the highway. There’s also an improvement in an unexpected area: your phone. You can now update your bike’s firmware through Zero’s mobile app, so you can improve your performance while sitting in your own garage. Prices for the bikes are the same as the 2017 models, which starts at $8, 495 for a Zero FX and culminates at $16, 495 for the SR and DSR models. Be ready to pay extra if you want that vaunted fast charging, though: the Charge Tank will cost you an extra $2, 295. That could make sense if you ride almost constantly, but you may want to save your cash if your bike only comes out for the daily commute. Via: CleanTechnica Source: Zero Motorcycles

Categories: reader

Samsung leapfrogs Intel again with 8-nanometer chips

Posted by kenmay on October - 19 - 2017

Samsung has qualified its 8-nanometer chip-making process for production three months ahead of schedule. It’s the same “low power plus” (LPP) process used for its current 10-nanometer silicon , not the next-gen extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography for its future 7-nanometer tech. That’ll yield chips that are ten percent more energy efficient and ten percent smaller than the 10-nanometer ones it’s making right now. At the same time, since the 8-nanometer chips use the same process, Samsung will be able to “rapidly ramp up, ” it said . Samsung said that the new process will be ideal for “mobile, cryptocurrency and network/server” applications. It notably worked again with Qualcomm, its 10-nanometer chip launch customer, to perfect the new tech. Rumors in Korea had it that Qualcomm would switch its 7-nanometer production to TMSC, which is reportedly slightly ahead of Samsung in developing that tech. However, Samsung confirmed with ZDNet that Qualcomm will be using its 8-nanometer process, without providing any specific details. Given that information, it seems likely that Qualcomm will build its next-gen Snapdragon chips with Samsung, using the tried-and-true LPP process instead of bleeding-edge 7-nanometer tech, which necessitates a switch to extreme ultraviolet lithography. By that time, Samsung should have its own 7-nanometer EUV process up to speed, with 6-nanometer chips set to follow after that. Anyway, Samsung Mobile is probably Qualcomm’s biggest customer with its Galaxy S8 and Note 8 phones, so it would have been pretty awkward to split off to another foundry. Though they don’t compete much in the same markets, the news puts Intel even further behind Samsung, at least in terms of chip trace sizes. Intel has yet to release any 10-nanometer chips, though it has said that when it does ( in 2018 or 2019 ), it will be ” generations ahead ” of Samsung thanks to better feature density. By then, however, Samsung might have closed that gap by being two or three actual generations ahead of Intel in terms of lithography. Samsung is expected to reveal its roadmap for 8- and 7-nanometer chips later today. Source: Samsung

Categories: reader

First Floating Wind Farm Delivers Electricity

Posted by kenmay on October - 19 - 2017

The world’s first floating offshore wind farm began delivering electricity to the Scottish grid today. “The 30MW installation, situated 25km (15.5mi) from Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, will demonstrate that offshore wind energy can be harvested in deep waters, miles away from land, where installing giant turbines was once impractical or impossible, ” reports Ars Technica. “At peak capacity, the wind farm will produce enough electricity to power 20, 000 Scottish homes.” From the report: The installation, called Hywind Scotland, is also interesting because it was built by Statoil, a Norwegian mega-corporation known for offshore oil drilling. Statoil has pursued offshore wind projects in recent years, using the companyâ(TM)s experience building and managing infrastructure in difficult open sea conditions to its advantage. Hywind Scotland began producing power in September, and today it starts delivering electricity to the Scottish grid. Now, all that’s left is for Statoil and its partner company Masdar to install a 1MWh lithium-ion battery, charmingly called âoeBatwind, â on shore. Batwind will help the offshore system regulate power delivery and optimize output. After a number of small demonstration projects, the five 6MW turbines are the first commercial turbines to lack a firm attachment to the seafloor. They’re held in place using three giant suction anchors, which are commonly used in offshore oil drilling. Essentially, an enormous, empty, upside-down âoebucketâ is placed on the seafloor, and air is sucked out of the bucket, which forces the bucket downward, further into the seafloor sediment. The report mentions a 2013 video that shows how offshore wind farms work. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: reader

Ubuntu 17.10 Artful Aardvark Released

Posted by kenmay on October - 19 - 2017

Canonical has made available the download links for Ubuntu 17.10 “Artful Aardvark”. It comes with a range of new features, changes, and improvements including GNOME as the default desktop, Wayland display server by default, Optional X.org server session, Mesa 17.2 or Mesa 17.3, Linux kernel 4.13 or kernel 4.14, new Subiquity server installer, improved hardware support, new Ubuntu Server installer, switch to libinput, an always visible dock using Dash to Dock GNOME Shell extension, and Bluetooth improvements with a new BlueZ among others. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: reader

Samsung To Let Proper Linux Distros Run on Galaxy Smartphones

Posted by kenmay on October - 19 - 2017

An anonymous reader shares a report: Samsung has announced it will soon become possible to run actual proper Linux on its Note8, Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones — and even Linux desktops. Yeah, yeah, we know Android is built on Linux, but you know what we mean. Samsung said it’s working on an app called “Linux on Galaxy” that will let users “run their preferred Linux distribution on their smartphones utilizing the same Linux kernel that powers the Android OS.” “Whenever they need to use a function that is not available on the smartphone OS, users can simply switch to the app and run any program they need to in a Linux OS environment, ” Samsung says. The app also allows multiple OSes to run on a device. Linux desktops will become available if users plug their phones into the DeX Station, the device that lets a Galaxy 8 run a Samsung-created desktop-like environment when connected to the DeX and an external monitor. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: reader

An anonymous reader shares a report: California employers can no longer ask job applicants about their prior salary and — if applicants ask — must give them a pay range for the job they are seeking, under a new state law that takes effect Jan. 1. AB168, signed Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown, applies to all public- and private-sector California employers of any size. The goal is to narrow the gender wage gap. If a woman is paid less than a man doing the same job and a new employer bases her pay on her prior salary, gender discrimination can be perpetuated, the bill’s backers say. Last year, the state passed a weaker law that said prior compensation, by itself, cannot justify any disparity in compensation. The new bill goes further by prohibiting employers, “orally or in writing, personally or through an agent, ” from asking about an applicant’s previous pay. However, if the applicant “voluntarily and without prompting” provides this information, the employer may use it “in determining the salary for that applicant.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: reader

Glamorous show-reels from shows like Game of Thrones get all the fame, but a lot of VFX work is mundane stuff like removing cars , power lines and people from shots. Adobe’s research team is working on making all of that easier for anyone, regardless of budget, thanks to a project called “Cloak.” It’s much the same as ” content-aware fill” for Photoshop, letting you select and then delete unwanted elements, with the software intelligently filling in the background. Cloak does the same thing to moving video, though, which is a significantly bigger challenge. Engadget got an early look at the tech, including a video demonstration and chance to talk with Adobe research engineer Geoffrey Oxholm and Victoria Nece, product manager for video graphics and VFX. At the moment, the technology is in the experimental stages, with no set plans to implement it. However, Adobe likes to give the public ” Sneaks ” at some of its projects as a way to generate interest and market features internally to teams. An example of that would be last year’s slightly alarming “VoCo” tech that lets you Photoshop voiceovers or podcasts. That has yet to make it into a product, but one that did is “Smartpic” which eventually became part of Adobe’s Experience Manager. The “Cloak” tech wouldn’t just benefit Hollywood — it could be useful to every video producer. You could make a freeway look empty by removing all the cars, cut out people to get a pristine nature shot, or delete, say, your drunk uncle from a wedding shot. Another fun example: When I worked as a compositer in another life , I had to replace the potato salad in a shot with macaroni, which was a highly tedious process. Object removal will also be indispensable for VR, AR, and other types of new video tech. “With 360 degree video, the removal of objects, the crew and the camera rig becomes virtually mandatory, ” Nece told Engadget. Content-aware fill on photos is no easy task in the first place, because the computer has to figure out what was behind the deleted object based on the pixels around it. Video increases the degree of difficulty, because you have to track any moving objects you want to erase. On top of that, the fill has to look the same from frame to frame or it will be a glitchy mess. “It’s a fascinating problem, ” Oxholm said. “Everything is moving, so even if you nail one frame, you have to be consistent.” Luckily, video does have one advantage over photos. “The saving grace is that we can see behind the thing we want to remove, ” says Oxholm. “If you’ve got a microphone to remove, you can see behind the microphone.” In other words, if you’re doing shot of a church with a pole in the way, there’s a good chance you have a different angle with a clean view of the church. With 360 degree video, the removal of objects, the crew and the camera rig becomes virtually mandatory. Another thing making content-aware fill for video much more feasible now is the fact that motion-tracking technology has become so good. “We can do really dense tracking, using parts of the scene as they become visible, ” said Oxholm. “That gives you something you can use to fill in.” The results so far, as shown in the video above, are quite promising. The system was able to erase cars from a freeway interchange, did a decent job of deleting a pole in front of a cathedral and even erased a hiking couple from a cave scene. The shots were done automatically in “one quick process, ” Oxholm said, after a mask was first drawn around the object to be removed — much as you do with Photoshop. It’s not totally perfect, however. Shadow traces are visible on the cave floor, and the cathedral is blurred in spots where the pole used to be. Even at this early stage, though, the tool could do much of the grunt-work, making it easier for a human user to do the final touch-ups. I’d love to see Adobe release it in preview as soon as possible, even if it’s not perfect, as it looks like it could be a major time saver — I sure could’ve used it for that macaroni.

Categories: reader