First time accepted submitter wick3t writes "The Neo900 fundraising campaign has already achieved the milestone of 200 pre-orders which means that mass production is now feasible. This follows a successful first prototype that was showcased at the OpenPhoenux-Hard-Software-Workshop 2013. Their next target is 1000 pre-orders as they aspire to reduce the production costs of each device." For those not familiar, the Neo 900 is an offshoot of the OpenMoko GTA04 designed for use in the popular Nokia N900 case (and, yes, they're fixing the weak usb port).
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savuporo writes "The Chang'e-3 lunar probe, which includes the Yutu or Jade Rabbit buggy, blasted off on board an enhanced Long March-3B carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 1:30 a.m. (12.30 p.m. EDT). Landing is expected on December 14, at a landing site called Sinus Iridium (the Bay of Rainbows), a relic of a huge crater 258 km in diameter. Coverage of the launch was carried live on CCTV, with youtube copies available."
Bennett Haselton has in years previous made some canny suggestions for tech-oriented holiday gifts; you can look forward to another one. Today, though, Bennett writes about one cool toy in particular: a kit to make your own creepy robot: "For over 20 years, Dutch inventor Theo Jansen has been building truck-sized sculptures that crab-walk eerily across the beach, using only the power of the wind to turn fan blades that power the gears and crankshafts and enable the walking motion. This kit allows you to assemble your own working model that 'walks' sideways across your desktop." Read on for the rest.
Tutter writes with news that Smellovision is being joined in reality by Tasteovision. "Possible applications in healthcare and gaming — it works by using electrodes on your tongue to stimulate salty, sweet, bitter and sour. It can produce the taste of virtual foods or drinks, allowing you to enjoy the taste without the calories (or chewing...). They are also good reasons to do this, for example, a diabetic can now taste sweets without actually affecting their blood sugar levels. Quote: 'The team is also working on a spin-off called a digital lollipop that will give the effect of a continuous sugar hit – but without sugar. For taste messaging they have developed TOIP — Taste Over Internet Protocol. This is a data format that makes it easy to transmit information on how to recreate the different tastes via the electrode. ... It is early days. The four major taste components, plus the fifth, the savoury 'umami' tang, are only a part of what we call flavor. Smell and texture are important, too — and the team now wants to work on adding those effects.' A video on youtube shows what it can do."
shutdown -p now writes "Coming from the team that had previously brought you Python Tools for Visual Studio, Microsoft has announced Node.js Tools for Visual Studio, with the release of the first public alpha. NTVS is the official extension for Visual Studio that adds support for Node.js, including editing with Intellisense, debugging, profiling, and the ability to deploy Node.js websites to Windows Azure. An overview video showcases the features, and Scott Hanselman has a detailed walkthrough. The project is open source under Apache License 2.0. While the extension is published by Microsoft, it is a collaborative effort involving Microsoft, Red Gate (which previously had a private beta version of similar product called Visual Node), and individual contributors from the Node.js community."
jones_supa writes "A classic game console freezing problem seems to affect the newest generation too. It has been found out that a bunch of Sony PlayStation 4s suffer of a problem which has been christened 'Blue Light of Death'. When a PS4 is turned on with a press of the power button, the light that runs along the side of the console should first pulse blue and then switch to white. At this point the console turns on the picture signal to the display device. Those who have a unit with the glitch are instead finding that their PS4 pulses blue, never goes to white and never outputs an image. We do not have accurate statistics of how widespread the issue is, but reports are popping up in Amazon reviews, Twitter, YouTube and other websites. PlayStation support is still in midst of investigating the issue, but has already posted a bunch of magic tricks you can try to get the console past the initial startup stage."
Jah-Wren Ryel writes "In early-2013, independent security researcher, Evan 'treefort' Booth, began working to answer one simple question: Can common items sold in airports after the security screening be used to build lethal weapons? As it turns out, even a marginally 'MacGyver-esque' attacker can breeze through terminal gift shops, restaurants, magazine stands and duty-free shops to find everything needed to wage war on an airplane." We mentioned Evan's work several months back; now his not-just-a-thought-experiment exploration of improvised weapons has been cleaned up and organized, so you don't have to watch his (fascinating) talks to experience the wonders of the Chucks of Liberty (video) or the Fragguccino (video).
Layzej writes "A new paper shows that global temperature rise of the past 15 years has been greatly underestimated. The reason is that the weather station network covers only about 85% of the planet. Satellite data shows that the parts of the Earth that are not covered by the surface station network, especially the Arctic, have warmed exceptionally fast over the last 15 years. Most temperature reconstructions simply omit any region not covered. A temperature reconstruction developed by NASA somewhat addresses the gaps by filling in missing data using temperatures from the nearest available observations. Now Kevin Cowtan (University of York) and Robert Way (University of Ottawa) have developed a new method to fill the data gaps using satellite data. The researchers describe their methods and findings in this YouTube video. 'The most important part of our work was testing the skill of each of these approaches in reconstructing unobserved temperatures. To do this we took the observed data and further reduced the coverage by setting aside some of the observations. We then reconstructed the global temperatures using each method in turn. Finally, we compared the reconstructed temperatures to the observed temperatures where they are available... While infilling works well over the oceans, the hybrid model works particularly well at restoring temperatures in the vicinity of the unobserved regions.' The authors note that 'While short term trends are generally treated with a suitable level of caution by specialists in the field, they feature significantly in the public discourse on climate change.'"
Lucas123 writes "The ATF has been testing 3D printed guns over the past year and, not surprisingly, has found that depending on the thermoplastics, 3D printers and CAD designs used, some can explode on the first attempt to shoot them. The ATF published videos this week of the tests on YouTube showing what looked like a Liberator model of a 3D gun exploding upon being fired. Another model, created with the popular ABS polymer and an advanced printer, could fire as many as 8 shots. The tests were published at a time when a law passed in 1988 banning the sale of guns made entirely of plastic is set to expire next month." I hope they post the videos when they do the same tests on Solid Concepts' 1911.
jeditobe writes with a link to a talk (video recorded, with transcript) about a project we've been posting about for years: ambitious Windows-replacement ReactOS: "In this talk, Alex Ionescu, lead kernel developer for the ReactOS project since 2004 (and recently returning after a long hiatus) will talk about the project's current state, having just passed revision 60000 in the SVN repository. Alex will also cover some of the project's goals, the development and testing methodology being such a massive undertaking (an open source project to reimplement all of Windows from scratch!), partnership with other open source projects (MinGW, Wine, Haiku, etc...). Alex will talk both about the infrastructure side about running such a massive OS project (but without Linux's corporate resources), as well as the day-to-day development challenges of a highly distributed team and the lack of Win32 internals knowledge that makes it hard to recruit. Finally, Alex will do a few demos of the OS, try out a few games and applications, Internet access, etc, and of course, show off a few blue screens of death."
First time accepted submitter sqorbit writes "Netflix and Youtube are gaining ground not only on the competition, such as Amazon, but also over peer-to-peer file sharing. Netflix claims more than 30 million customers and believes it could double that number in the future. Traffic from Netflix and Youtube amounted to over 50% of Internet traffic in September. Meanwhile Bittorrent traffic is down slightly (7.4% from 10%) in Internet traffic compared to last year. Could more people be satisfied with current video offerings or are less people finding useful things to download via file sharing?"
ABC News reports that "A volcano in western Indonesia erupted again Sunday, unleashing volcanic ash high into the sky and forcing the evacuation of villagers living around its slope. Officials raised Mount Sinabung's alert status to the second-highest level after the 2,600-meter (8,530-foot) -high mountain erupted early Sunday, said National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. Authorities were working to evacuate residents from four North Sumatra province villages located within the mountain's three-kilometer (two-mile) danger zone, Nugroho said. About 1,300 villagers have been relocated to safer areas so far. It was the volcano's second big eruption since late last month, with its Oct. 24 explosion prompting the evacuation of more than 3,300 people." This video of Sinabung's 2010 eruption gives some clue about what to expect.
New submitter chrisjz writes "What happens when you combine a virtual reality headset and a brainwave reading device? Here's a simulation showing off what's possible with current technology, using the Emotiv EPOC to read a person's brainwaves for movement in a virtual environment. Along with the Oculus Rift, a VR headset, and the Razer Hydra for hand tracking, this demonstrates another alternative to using omni-directional treadmills or full body tracking for movement and interaction in virtual reality. Consumer level brain computer interfaces are still primitive these days, but it doesn't seem too far off that we'll have virtual reality similar to what William Gibson envisioned in his novels or movies such as The Matrix has shown us."
If you happen to be one of the other five people who own an Atari Jaguar, you've probably played the excellent Tempest 2000. As chance would have it, a few months ago Llamasoft announced they were approached by Sony to write TxK, based "...on the essence of the original T2K. ... . We're not going to overload you with ultra psychedelia, but we will make it fluid and colourful and awesome-looking ... We're going to give you a perfect treat for your eyes, ears and thumbs with a modern extrapolation of one of the best shooters ever made on hardware that's just perfectly suited for it, and in a way that retains the purity of the original design." A couple of weeks ago, a working version of TxK was demoed at Play Expo. Read below to see the video. It really seems to retain the aesthetic of Tempest 2000 enhanced by modern hardware and a full color range, with a touch of Space Giraffe tactics (you can kill enemies at the rim somehow at least).
Hallowe'en is my favorite holiday: I like seeing costumes (and walking around in my own), and seeing what people do to decorate their houses, yards, etc. For the second year in a row though, I've failed to come up with a really good scheme for making my own place appropriately spooky. So, in hopes of loosing some inspiration for myself and others, I ask today what you're doing to spookify your surroundings (or your person) tomorrow, especially if it means using technology in interesting ways. Sensor-activated scary sounds or lights? An Arduino or Raspberry Pi-controlled costume? Elaborate trap-door? Infrasonic hackle-raising subwoofer install? Maybe one year Alek Komarnitsky will switch to Hallowe'en instead of Christmas, and offer a webcam-equipped remote-controllable haunt.
mask.of.sanity writes "Researchers have demonstrated how controller area networks in cars can make vehicles appear to drive slower than their actual speed, manipulate brakes, wind back odometers and set off all kinds of alarms and lights from random fuzzing (video). The network weaknesses stem from a lack of authentication which they say is absent to improve performance. The researchers have also built a $25 open-source fuzzing tool to help others enter the field."
Daniel_Stuckey writes "There's definitely something strange about the video's attempt at looking/sounding like a NOVA episode. Alexander, who defended the agency at Black Hat this summer and recently announced his retirement next year, takes care to emphasize the agency's privacy compliance precautions and oversight. 'We have not had any willful or knowing violations in those programs,' he says referring to sections 215 and 702 of the Patriot Act, which relate to the telephone metadata and PRISM programs respectively. 'There have been [violations] in other programs, but not in those two.'"
Lucas123 writes "A Taiwanese non-profit R&D organization is demonstrating a new heads-up type display that allows users to interact with the floating virtual screens using finger swipes. The new i-Air Touch technology from the Industrial Technology Research Institute is being developed for an array of devices, including PCs, wearable computers and mobile devices. The technology allows a user's hand to be free of any physical device such as a touchpad or keyboard for touch input. ITRI plans to license the patented technology to manufacturers. The company sees the technology being used in not only consumer arenas (video), but also for medical applications such as endoscopic surgery and any industrial applications that benefit from hands-free input."
Okian Warrior writes "Hackaday brings us news about a continuation of the original Star Trek series. The Kickstarter-funded project is attempting to complete the original 5-year mission, which ended after only three seasons on the air. The fan-based and fan-supported reincarnation is cleverly titled Star Trek Continues and has CBS's consent. Check out the first episode, Pilgrim of Eternity. For being fan-made, it's actually pretty good." The attention to detail in the sets, costumes, and even lighting is incredible. It's far and away the most faithful re-creation of the original series I've ever seen.