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Power

Bill Gates Investing $2 Billion In Renewables 225 225

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Bill Gates has dumped a billion dollars into renewables, and now he's ready to double down. Gates announced he will increase his investment in renewable energy technologies to $2 billion in an attempt to "bend the curve" on limiting climate change. He is focusing on risky investments that favor "breakthrough" technologies because he thinks incremental improvements to existing tech won't be enough to meet energy needs while avoiding a climate catastrophe. He says, "There's no battery technology that's even close to allowing us to take all of our energy from renewables and be able to use battery storage in order to deal not only with the 24-hour cycle but also with long periods of time where it's cloudy and you don't have sun or you don't have wind. Power is about reliability. We need to get something that works reliably." At the same time, Gates rejected calls to divest himself and his charitable foundation of investments in fossil fuel companies.
Power

Samsung Nanotech Breakthrough Nearly Doubles Li-Ion Battery Capacity 122 122

Posted by timothy
from the don't-worry-phone-makers-will-keep-up dept.
The Korea Times reports that Samsung researchers have published in Nature Communications the results of research (here's the abstract) that could lead to vastly greater storage capacity for lithium-ion batteries. The researchers, by growing graphene on silicon anodes, were able to preserve the shape of the anodes, an outcome which has formerly eluded battery designers: silicon tends to deform over numerous charging cycles. From the linked abstract: Here we report direct graphene growth over silicon nanoparticles without silicon carbide formation. The graphene layers anchored onto the silicon surface accommodate the volume expansion of silicon via a sliding process between adjacent graphene layers. When paired with a commercial lithium cobalt oxide cathode, the silicon carbide-free graphene coating allows the full cell to reach volumetric energy densities of 972 and 700Whl1 at first and 200th cycle, respectively, 1.8 and 1.5 times higher than those of current commercial lithium-ion batteries. Also at ZDNet.
Encryption

Ask Slashdot: Keeping Cloud Data Encrypted Without Cross-Platform Pain? 107 107

Posted by timothy
from the thrice-distilled-optimism dept.
bromoseltzer writes: I use cloud storage to hold many gigs of personal files that I'd just as soon were not targets for casual data mining. (Google: I'm thinking of you.) I want to access them from Linux, Windows, and Android devices. I have been using encfs, which does the job for Linux fairly well (despite some well-known issues), but Windows and Android don't seem to have working clients. I really want to map a file system of encrypted files and encrypted names to a local unencrypted filesystem — the way encfs works. What solutions do Slashdot readers recommend? Ideal would be a competitive cloud storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive that provides trustworthy encryption with suitable clients. Is there anything like that?
Data Storage

When Will Your Hard Drive Fail? 297 297

Posted by timothy
from the worst-possible-moment dept.
jfruh writes: Tech writer Andy Patrizio suffered his most catastrophic hard drive failure in 25 years of computing recently, which prompted him to delve into the questions of which hard drives fail and when. One intriguing theory behind some failure rates involve a crisis in the industry that arose from the massive 2011 floods in Thailand, home to the global hard drive industry.
Sony

Sony Releasing New 1TB PlayStation 4 In July 98 98

Posted by samzenpus
from the more-storage dept.
Mark Wilson writes: Known as the 1TB PS4 Ultimate Player Edition (or PlayStation 4 Ultimate Player 1TB Edition depending on who you're talking to), Sony is launching a new PlayStation 4 next month. With the ever-growing market for downloadable content, it's difficult to have too much disk space. Recognizing this, Sony is doubling the size of the largest capacity PS4. The 1TB console will launch next month in the US, Asia and Europe, and the announcement comes just weeks after Microsoft announced a 1TB version of its Xbox One. Gamers in Japan will be able to get their hands on the console by the end of June, but the rest of the world will have to wait until July 15. There's no word on pricing, but Sony has detailed a few other changes that have been made to this version of the console.
Data Storage

1 In 3 Data Center Servers Is a Zombie 107 107

Posted by timothy
from the sounds-like-my-neighborhood dept.
dcblogs writes with these snippets from a ComputerWorld story about a study that says nearly a third of all data-center servers are are comatose ("using energy but delivering no useful information"). What's remarkable is this percentage hasn't changed since 2008, when a separate study showed the same thing. ... A server is considered comatose if it hasn't done anything for at least six months. The high number of such servers "is a massive indictment of how data centers are managed and operated," said Jonathan Koomey, a research fellow at Stanford University, who has done data center energy research for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "It's not a technical issue as much as a management issue."
Music

UK's Legalization of CD Ripping Is Unlawful, Court Rules 301 301

Posted by Soulskill
from the take-that,-everyone-who-owns-music dept.
Last year the UK finally passed legislation to make the copying and ripping of CDs for personal use legal. After the legislation passed, several groups of rightsholders applied for a judicial review, arguing that the change would cause financial harm to them. (They suggested an alternative: taxing blank CDs and storage devices, sharing the resulting funds among rightsholders.) Now, the UK's High Court issued a ruling that agrees with them: "the decision to introduce section 28B [private copying] in the absence of a compensation mechanism is unlawful." The exceptions in place for private copying are now unlawful, and the UK government will need to amend the legislation if it is to have any meaningful effect.
United Kingdom

British Government Instituted 3-Month Deletion Policy, Apparently To Evade FOIA 86 86

Posted by samzenpus
from the letter-of-the-law dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In late 2004, weeks before Tony Blair's Freedom of Information (FOI) act first came into force, Downing Street adopted a policy of automatically deleting emails more than three months old (paywalled). The IT decision has resulted in a "dysfunctional" system according to former cabinet officials, with Downing Street workers struggling to agree on the details of meetings in the absence of a correspondence chain. It is still possible to preserve an email by dragging it to local storage, but the relevance of mails may not be apparent at the time that the worker must make the decision to do so. Former special adviser to Nick Clegg Sean Kemp said: "Some people delete their emails on an almost daily basis, others just try to avoid putting anything potentially interesting in an email in the first place."
Data Storage

TRIM and Linux: Tread Cautiously, and Keep Backups Handy 182 182

Posted by Soulskill
from the solid-state-detective-work dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Algolia is a buzzword-compliant ("Hosted Search API that delivers instant and relevant results") start-up that uses a lot of open-source software (including various strains of Linux) and a lot of solid-state disk, and as such sometimes runs into problems with each of these. Their blog this week features a fascinating look at troubles that they faced with ext4 filesystems mysteriously flipping to read-only mode: not such a good thing for machines processing a search index, not just dishing it out. "The NGINX daemon serving all the HTTP(S) communication of our API was up and ready to serve the search queries but the indexing process crashed. Since the indexing process is guarded by supervise, crashing in a loop would have been understandable but a complete crash was not. As it turned out the filesystem was in a read-only mode. All right, let's assume it was a cosmic ray :) The filesystem got fixed, files were restored from another healthy server and everything looked fine again. The next day another server ended with filesystem in read-only, two hours after another one and then next hour another one. Something was going on. After restoring the filesystem and the files, it was time for serious analysis since this was not a one time thing.

The rest of the story explains how they isolated the problem and worked around it; it turns out that the culprit was TRIM, or rather TRIM's interaction with certain SSDs: "The system was issuing a TRIM to erase empty blocks, the command got misinterpreted by the drive and the controller erased blocks it was not supposed to. Therefore our files ended-up with 512 bytes of zeroes, files smaller than 512 bytes were completely zeroed. When we were lucky enough, the misbehaving TRIM hit the super-block of the filesystem and caused a corruption."

Since SSDs are becoming the norm outside the data center as well as within, some of the problems that their analysis exposed for one company probably would be good to test for elsewhere. One upshot: "As a result, we informed our server provider about the affected SSDs and they informed the manufacturer. Our new deployments were switched to different SSD drives and we don't recommend anyone to use any SSD that is anyhow mentioned in a bad way by the Linux kernel."
Hardware

Ask Slashdot: What Hardware Is In Your Primary Computer? 558 558

Posted by Soulskill
from the very-bored-hamsters dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Here's something we haven't done in a while: list the specs of your main system (best one) so we can see what kinds of computers Slashdot geeks use. Context would be interesting, too — if you're up for it, explain how and why you set it up as you did, as well as the computer's primary purpose(s). Things you can list include (but are not limited to): CPU, motherboard, video card, memory, storage (SSD/HDD), exotic Controllers (RAID or caching), optical drives, displays, peripherals, etc. We can compare and contrast, see what specs are suitable for what purposes, and perhaps learn a trick or two.
Data Storage

How To Store Your Data For 1 Million Years 110 110

Posted by timothy
from the send-it-to-the-irs dept.
Whiteox writes with Fast Company's article about Robert Grass and his team, which is exploring how to use DNA as a data storage mechanism, along with others working on truly long-term storage. Both commercial interests and academic researchers are interested in protecting data not just for years or decades, but for multi-century stretches, right out into the millions. From the article: The idea of storing information on DNA traces back to a Soviet lab in the 1960s, but the first successful implementation wasn't achieved until 2012, when biologist George Church and his colleagues announced in the journal Science that they had encoded one of Church's books in DNA. More recently, reports the New Yorker, the artist Joe Davis, now in residence at Church's lab, has announced plans to encode bits of Wikipedia into a particularly old strain of apple, so that he can create "a living, literal tree of knowledge. "Impressive," writes Whiteox, "but I wonder if our future selves can make life from our archived data?"
Hardware

NAND Flash Shrinks To 15/16nm Process, Further Driving Prices Down 60 60

Posted by Soulskill
from the smaller-better-faster-cheaper dept.
Lucas123 writes: Both Micron and Toshiba are producing NAND flash memory based on 15 and 16 nanometer process technology, which reduces die area over a 16GB MLC chip by 28% compared with previous die technology. Additionally, Micron announced its upcoming consumer USB flash drives and internal SSDs will also use triple-level cell NAND flash (a technology expected to soon dominate the market) storing three bits instead of two for the first time and further reducing production cost. The advancement in NAND flash density has been driving SSD pricing down dramatically over the past few years. In fact, over the last year, the average price for 128GB and 256GB SSDs have dropped to $50 and $90, respectively, for system manufacturers, according to DRAMeXchange. And prices for consumers have dropped to an average of $91.55 for a 128GB SSD and $164.34 for a 256GB SSD.
Security

New SOHO Router Security Audit Uncovers Over 60 Flaws In 22 Models 66 66

Posted by Soulskill
from the my-god,-it's-full-of-flaws dept.
Home and small-office routers have become a hotbed for security research lately, with vulnerabilities and poor security practices becoming the rule, rather than the exception. A new security audit by researchers from Universidad Europea de Madrid only adds to that list, finding 60 distinct flaws in 22 different device models. They posted details of their research on the Full Disclosure mailing list, and the affected brands include D-Link, Belkin, Linksys, Huawei, and others. Many of the models they examined had been distributed to internet customers across Spain by their ISPs. About half of the flaws involve Cross Site Scripting and Cross Site Request Forgery capabilities, though there is at least one backdoor with a hard-coded password. Several routers allow external attackers to delete files on USB storage devices, and others facilitate DDoS attacks.
Intel

Intel Adopts USB-C Connector For 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3, Supports USB 3.1, DP 1.2 179 179

Posted by timothy
from the ok-that's-pretty-cool dept.
MojoKid writes: The high speed Thunderbolt interface standard, which is used for everything from hyper-fast external storage solutions to external graphics cards, has been slow to take off. You can blame the high-priced Thunderbolt peripherals and the uber-expensive cables (at least when compared to your garden-variety USB cables). For most people, USB 3.0 is "good enough" and making a huge investment into the Thunderbolt ecosystem has been reserved for those in the professional video editing arena. However, Intel is looking to change all of that with Thunderbolt 3. Thunderbolt 3 once again doubles the maximum bandwidth, this time jumping from 20Gbps to a whopping 40Gbps. While that is impressive in its own right, the truly big news is that Thunderbolt 3 is moving away from the Mini DisplayPort connector and is instead adopting the USB-C connector. As a result Thunderbolt will also support USB 3.1 (which is currently spec'd at 10Gbps) and can optionally provide up to 100W of power (in compliance with the USB Power Delivery spec) to charge devices via USB-C (like the recently introduced 12-inch Apple MacBook).
Power

Mercedes-Benz Copies Tesla, Plans To Offer Home Energy Storage 116 116

Posted by timothy
from the germans-sure-know-their-zeitgeist dept.
cartechboy writes: It's like a game of follow the leader. First, Tesla announced its Powerwall Batteries, and now Mercedes-Benz plans to follow suit by entering the energy-storage business as well. A division of parent company Daimler has been testing battery packs that can power houses, and plans to launch commercially in September. Supposedly a battery pack for "light industrial, commercial, and private" use is being tested with sizes ranging from 2.5 kWh to 5.9 kWh. While Tesla's building a massive Gigafactory to make all its batteries for its Powerwall and electric cars, it's unclear exactly how Daimler plans to produce its batteries in a larger-scale energy-storage operation.
Businesses

How Elon Musk's Growing Empire is Fueled By Government Subsidies 356 356

Posted by timothy
from the damned-if-you-don't dept.
theodp writes: By the Los Angeles Times' reckoning, Elon Musk's Tesla Motors, SolarCity, and SpaceX together have benefited from an estimated $4.9 billion in government support. The figure compiled by The Times, explains reporter Jerry Hirsch, comprises a variety of government incentives, including grants, tax breaks, factory construction, discounted loans and environmental credits that Tesla can sell. It also includes tax credits and rebates to buyers of solar panels and electric cars. "He definitely goes where there is government money," said an equity research analyst. "Musk and his companies' investors enjoy most of the financial upside of the government support, while taxpayers shoulder the cost," Hirsch adds. "The payoff for the public would come in the form of major pollution reductions, but only if solar panels and electric cars break through as viable mass-market products. For now, both remain niche products for mostly well-heeled customers." And as Musk moves into a new industry — battery-based home energy storage — Hirsch notes Tesla has already secured a commitment of $126 million in California subsidies to companies developing energy storage technology.
Censorship

Artist Uses 3D Printing To Preserve Artifacts Destroyed By ISIS 73 73

Posted by timothy
from the not-quite-the-same dept.
tedlistens writes: "From the burning of the Library of Alexandria to the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan by the Taliban, to the Nazi's battle to burn as much "degenerate art" as they could find, mobs and soldiers have been quick to destroy what took societies centuries to create; what museums and collectors spent decades collecting, preserving, and documenting for the public." However, as noted by Motherboard in an article to which tedlistens links, "The digital era looks different: files can be cheaply hosted in data centers spread across several states or continents to ensure permanence. Morehshin Allahyari, an Iranian born artist, educator, and activist, wants to apply that duplicability to the artifacts that ISIS has destroyed. Now, Allahyari is working on digitally fabricating the sculptures for a series called "Material Speculation" as part of a residency in Autodesk's Pier 9 program. The first in the series is "Material Speculation: ISIS," which, through intense research, is modeling and reproducing statues destroyed by ISIS in 2015. Allahyari isn't just interested in replicating lost objects but making it possible for anyone to do the same: Embedded within each semi-translucent copy is a flash drive with Allahyari's research about the artifacts, and an online version is coming.
Google

Google Photos Launches With Unlimited Storage, Completely Separate From Google+ 175 175

Posted by timothy
from the delete-is-the-hardest-key-to-press dept.
An anonymous reader writes with a report that Google yesterday announced at its I/O conference a photo-storage site known as Google Photos. Says the article: The new service is completely separate from Google+, something Google users have been requesting for eons. Google is declaring that Google Photos lets you backup and store "unlimited, high-quality photos and videos, for free." It's a bit creepy to see all the photos that Google still has on tap, including many that I've since deleted on my phone.
Data Storage

No, Your SSD Won't Quickly Lose Data While Powered Down 106 106

Posted by Soulskill
from the news-that-harder-to-freak-out-about dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A few weeks ago, we discussed reports that enterprise SSDs would lose data in a surprisingly short amount of time if left powered off. The reports were based on a presentation from Alvin Cox, a Seagate engineer, about enterprise storage practices. PCWorld spoke to him and another engineer for Seagate, and they say the whole thing was blown out of proportion. Alvin Cox said, "I wouldn't worry about (losing data). This all pertains to end of life. As a consumer, an SSD product or even a flash product is never going to get to the point where it's temperature-dependent on retaining the data." The intent of the original presentation was to set expectations for a worst case scenario — a data center writing huge amounts of data to old SSDs and then storing them long-term at unusual temperatures. It's not a very realistic situation for businesses with responsible IT departments, and almost impossible for personal drives.