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Autodesk Says It's Killing Softimage Development, Support

dryriver Longtime Softimage Users Are Stunned By The News (85 comments)

Autodesk bought Softimage XSI for cheap, and just killed it to remove competition from their flagship products 3DMAX and MAYA. There is a huge thread about this over on cgsociety.org: http://forums.cgsociety.org/sh... ...Basically, anybody who built their studio pipeline around Softimage XSI, including many indy game developers, is royally screwed. Softimage's most powerful feature "ICE" (a multithreaded, node-based visual programming language that lets even non-programmers build custom tools and functions inside Softimage) is being migrated to Autodesk Maya instead. Its going to be called "Bifrost", as it is the "second coming" of Softimage ICE. Many Softimage users are wondering what other 3D software they can migrate to. Many are considering migrating to SideFX's "Houdini" (http://www.sidefx.com/), which is a very powerful procedural-animation software used extensively in some of the most complex VFX shots you see in Hollywood films, like the character shatter effects in TRON LEGACY. Some are considering moving to the open-source Blender 3D software, to escape from Autodesk's business policies completely. Basically, Autodesk bought Softimage, slowly killed it, ripped out the best bits, and is now forcing Softimage users to migrate to either 3DMAX or Maya, which are Autodesk's cash cows in the Media & Entertainment division. A lot of people are very pissed off about this. But this is hardly the first time Autodesk has killed a successful product (e.g. the once-excellent Autodesk Combustion), because it didn't make enough money for Autodesk's profit hungry shareholders. A sad day for Softimage XSI users. It has powered films ranging from the first Jurrassic Park to the recent LEGO movie. It was particularly strong at pulling off complex character animation, including complex muscle-and-sliding-skin simulations (e.g. the all-CG primates in "Dawn Of The Planet Of The APES"). XSI was a good CG software. It will be sorely missed by many... If Blender can get its UI overhaul right in the next release, some XSI users may migrate to the open-source software.

about 9 months ago
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The Battle For the Game Industry's Soul

dryriver I hope BF4 is better than Battlefield 3 (272 comments)

Battlefield 3 was no fun to play. It was a real system hog, had unacceptably long map load times, had an external HTML-based server browser that sucked, and the gameplay pretty much consisted of you entering the game, and being mowed down by a higher ranking player with more unlocked gadgets in the first 20 seconds. Battlefield 2 was a lot of fun. Battlefield 2142 was also great (Scifi-themed) fun. Battlefield 3 sucked bad in terms of simple things like "overall enjoyment" and "fun gameplay". As for Battlefield 4, I personally have little hope that EA has learned anything from Battlefield 3's gameplay problems. I'm guessing that it will suck on the gameplay side like BF3 did, but that it will have prettier graphics (which of course will require a bang-up-to-date PC or laptop to enjoy properly). My 2 Cents...ü

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Are the Hardest Things Programmers Have To Do?

dryriver GPU Programming is a PITA (473 comments)

I'm still trying to find a way to use the GPU for computations without having to jump through crazy hoops to do it. Also, multithreading in general is often a PITA to get right...

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Language To Learn For Scientific Computing?

dryriver I recommend C#.NET (465 comments)

Not only is C# easy to learn, and easy to both read and write, it also runs at a fairly high speed when it is compiled. To make use of multiple CPU Cores, C# has a neat feature named PARALLEL.FOR. If your algorithm scans across a 2D Data Array using a FOR LOOP at all, Parallel.For will automatically break that array into smaller arrays, and have each calculated by a different CPU core, resulting in a much faster overall computation speed. I develop algorithms in C# and highly recommend it if you want a) a nice, readable code syntax and b) fast execution speed. I hope this helps...

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Language to Learn for Scientific Computing?

dryriver Give C# A Try (3 comments)

C#.NET is easy to read and write and runs at a pretty good speed when compiled. And since you want to use multiple CPU cores, C# has some easy parallelization options, such as a "PARALLEL FOR" loop. Good luck!

about a year ago
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Charlie Stross: Why Microsoft Word Must Die

dryriver Re:LibreOffice Write is excellent... (479 comments)

Its very, very similar - a lot of shared DNA - but I think LibreOffice Write has some extra functionality - like the right-click Thesaurus - that isn't in OpenOffice Write. I could be wrong though since I don't have OO Write installed right now.

about a year ago
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Charlie Stross: Why Microsoft Word Must Die

dryriver LibreOffice Write is excellent... (479 comments)

... and since discovering it, I have felt no need to use MS Word for anything anymore. Particularly good about LibreOffice Write? The PDF export function works flawlessly, exports quickly, and also gives control over how the PDF document appears in Acrobat Reader (Zoom level, page order, thumbnails, et cetera). To me, Word has had its day. LibreOffice Write works well, is free, requires no internet-licensing shenanigans and does everything one could expect from a good word processor, including auto spell-checking and thesaurus functionality. My 2 Cents. =)

about a year ago
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Broadcasters Petition US Supreme Court In Fight Against Aereo

dryriver If Aereo is so horrible (Napster, Bittorrent)... (229 comments)

... then why don't the big broadcaster get together and buy Aereo before it can - supposedly! - "do more damage". --- This whole thing reeks of the stink TPTB raised each time an Internet file-sharing tech came along. Instead of investing/going along with the "new wave in media consumption", TPTB always demonize whatever the latest content-delivery mechanism does. ---- So My Dear Big-Broadcasters: Put your money where your mouth is, and buy Aereo "for the good of the industry". --- I sometimes wish that the Big Media PTB would hire a CEO/CTO who is in his 20s - 30s only. I bet that CEO/CTO would go along with new trends in media distribution and consumption, instead of trying to shut them/shoot them down before they even get a chance to mature. My 2 Cents... As always, feel free to disagree. =)

about a year ago
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Sensor Characteristics Uniquely Identify Individual Phones

dryriver What is it with Scientists and Identifying Things? (69 comments)

A statistical analysis of your online writing-style identifies you. CCTV cameras identify you from your gait (the "way you walk"). And now your smartphone sensors give away what smartphone you are using (... useful to "backdoor" the device, I presume?). My question to these scientist: Why do you create this tech? Do you not care about the privacy of the common man, or indeed the technological future your children will be forced to live in? My 2 Cents on this, and similar efforts to "ID people"....

about a year ago
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Nest Protect: Trojan Horse For 'The Internet of Things'?

dryriver After Snowden's revelations... (177 comments)

... selling people "internet-connected smart-gadgets for the home" will be a heck of a tough sell, especially in an "educated" market like Europe. Many people are dismayed to learn that their smartphones, laptops, tablet computers and other devices can be turned into "spying tools" by TPTB pretty much on-demand, with no legal oversight. I don't think that knowing this, anyone is eager to put even more privacy-destroying electronic gadgets in their home. Even an internet connected "smart TV" that can gauge your mood through its built in front camera scanning your face will be a tough sell. It takes one news report of "Smart TVs getting remotely hacked", and people will default back to having a "dumb TV". The Internet-Of-Things will never take off with educated consumers. The "trust" that requires has been destroyed by revelations of NSA/GCHQ snooping on everybody. Its over for the Internet-Of-Things before it has really started. A few dumb consumers may still buy these "internet connected smart devices". But educated/awak/aware consumers? Not a chance in hell... My 2 Cents.

about a year ago
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NSA's New Utah Data Center Suffering Meltdowns

dryriver A case of Poetic Justice? (241 comments)

You set out to snoop on the minutiae of the lives of tens of millions of innocent people. Then your data center melts down... Perhaps God/Angels had something to do with this? =)

about a year ago
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Boston Dynamics Wildcat Can Gallop — No Strings Attached

dryriver Boston Dynamics is a typical example of... (257 comments)

...really smart people creating things - "war machines" to be blunt - that will wind up killing someone on some battlefield somewhere (probably the Middle East and North Africa). If BD were creating robotic devices for peaceful purposes - a "dog" for the blind, a robot that can do some old lady's shopping for her - then I would be applauding the effort/brilliance on display here. But building clever war machines? Sorry, but this isn't something intelligent, conscientious people would even dream of working on. So its "boo combat robots" for Boston Dynamics from me, rather than "yay cool robots"... My 2 Cents. Feel free to disagree...

about a year ago
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More Evidence That Piracy Can Increase Sales

dryriver The LSE is a very LEFT-leaning institution... (196 comments)

... which means that they can provide the "straight dope" on piracy, without trying to please rightwing conservatives who constantly scream that "piracy is theft". This report tells us what many of us already knew/suspected. Still, kudos to the LSE for making the effort! +1

about a year ago
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California Outlaws 'Revenge Porn'

dryriver Better late than never... (528 comments)

It seems that _positive_ internet laws only get passed when it is almost "too late". This one falls into that category, methinks. I've never understood why people engage in "revenge porn" in the first place. But I guess this gives victims of this practice - mostly women I am guessing - some way to fight their ex-boyfriends or ex-lovers. Sounds like a good & needed law overall. I support it...

about a year ago
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Game Preview: Firefall (video)

dryriver Doesn't "Borderlands 2" Qualify? (122 comments)

Borderlands 2 is an FPS game with heavy RPG elements, and you can play co-op with 4 players, and it is heaps of fun. --- Sure, it isn't an "MMO" at this point. But the idea that RPG and FPS have never been "blended" is false. Borderlands 2 does it, and does it in a package that is great fun (good for 150 hours or so of gameplay if you want to reach Level 70). Maybe Borderlands 3 can have a MMO aspect as well? Who knows? ----- There is also the Just Cause 2 Multiplayer Beta going on. That supports up to 2,000 players per server and is "FPS-like". http://www.jc-mp.com/ What it lacks in RPG elements, it makes up for in terms of a huge map littered with vehicles you can drive, fly or float. My 2 Cents...

about a year ago
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3D-Printed Gun Bought and Displayed By London Art Museum

dryriver Giving 3D Printers A Bad Name... (133 comments)

Am I the only one who thinks that these idiots are creating 3D printed guns solely to provoke TPTB into regulating 3D printers? ---- I.e. future 3D printer models you purchase will send any 3D object you print to a remote server, where trained specialists check whether you are - possibly - printing "gun parts" without legal authorization. ------ I think that the crappy 3D guns these people are trying to create give all of 3D printing a bad name. And I'm pretty sure that the big corporations can't wait for 3D printers to be crippled with draconian regulations. Thus one can forget about a future where one doesn't buy a product the conventional way, but rather uses one's home 3D printer to print it out. I hope the 3D guns people stop before they ruin the 3D printed future for the rest of humanity. My 2 Cents...

about a year ago
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Cruise Ship "Costa Concordia" Salvage Attempt To Go Ahead

dryriver Re:It's an Italian thing (151 comments)

Ha ha ha ha... Made me laugh...

about a year ago
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Cruise Ship "Costa Concordia" Salvage Attempt To Go Ahead

dryriver Re:this has me wondering (151 comments)

It is suspected that the bodies of 2 more people who are still "missing" may be found somewhere inside the ship when it is refloated. RIP to those who died in this disaster. Nobody goes on a modern cruiseship these days expecting to be "shipwrecked" or "Titanic'd" within the first hours of the cruise..

about a year ago
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Cruise Ship "Costa Concordia" Salvage Attempt To Go Ahead

dryriver Re:Half a billion? (151 comments)

Crazy, crazy amount to spend, right? I wonder if this is an example of "Italian Efficiency"... =) =) =)

about a year ago

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French Health Watchdog: 3D Viewing May Damage Eyesight In Children

dryriver dryriver writes  |  about a month and a half ago

dryriver (1010635) writes "The BBC reports: A French health watchdog has recommended that children under the age of six should not be allowed access to 3D content. The Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (Anses) added that access for those up to the age of 13 should be 'moderate'. It follows research into the possible impact of 3D imaging on still-developing eyes. Few countries currently have guidelines about 3D usage. According to Anses, the process of assimilating a three-dimensional effect requires the eyes to look at images in two different places at the same time before the brain translates it as one image. 'In children, and particularly before the age of six, the health effects of this vergence-accommodation conflict could be much more severe given the active development of the visual system at this time,' it said in a statement."
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ACLU Creates Animation About Privacy Risks Of "The Internet Of Things"

dryriver dryriver writes  |  about 2 months ago

dryriver (1010635) writes "The American Civil Liberties Union has created a fun to watch — and admittedly somewhat scary — 3 minute animation titled 'Invasion Of The Data Snatchers' that is intended to demonstrate to the perhaps not very computer literate laypersons just what kind of level of mass surveillance the rapidly approaching 'Internet Of Things' may bring with it. The Youtube link to the animation is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... The animation starts with Google ('Ogle' in the animation), CCTV cameras, Facebook, Social Media and Smartphones spying on people. It laments that 'people allowed this', because they 'thought they could always log off again'. Then it fast forwards to the 2020s where the 'Internet Of Things' has put computing power, networking capability and with that potential 'stealth surveillance' capability into everything from smart fridges and smart toasters, to smart toilets and smart showerheads. The animation concludes on a grim note — the central female character is punished for her 'divergent showering habits'. All in all, the ACLU commissioned animation may be a great way to explain to the layperson, in just 3 minutes, why the 'Internet Of Things' may perhaps not be such a good idea from a privacy rights protection standpoint."
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The World's Worst Planes: Aircraft Designs That Failed

dryriver dryriver writes  |  about 7 months ago

dryriver (1010635) writes "The BBC reports: 'It's more than 110 years since mankind first took to the air in a powered aircraft. During that time, certain designs have become lauded for their far-sighted strengths – the Supermarine Spitfire; Douglas DC-3 Dakota; or the Anglo-French Concorde supersonic airliner, to name a few. But then there are planes like the Christmas Bullet. Designed by Dr William Whitney Christmas, who was described by one aviation historian as the "greatest charlatan to ever see his name associated with an airplane", this ”revolutionary” prototype biplane fighter had no struts supporting the wings; instead, they were supposed to flap like a bird’s. Both prototypes were destroyed during their first flights – basically, because Christmas's "breakthrough" design was so incapable of flight that the wings would twist off the airframe at the first opportunity. Just as many of the world's most enduring designs share certain characteristics, the history of aviation is littered with disappointing designs. Failures like Christmas's uniquely unflyable aircraft often overlooked some fairly simple rules: The Douglas TBD Devastator was a death-trap; it could only release its torpedo flying in a straight line whilst dawdling at 115mph – making it easy to shoot down. The short-lived Brewster Buffalo was shot down in droves when it encountered Japanese fighters in the early years of World War II, proving too slow and cumbersome. The Fairey Albacore was intended to become the Royal Navy’s standard torpedo bomber; it ended up being edged out by the plane it was supposed to replace. A flaw in the design of the De Havilland Comet’s cabin windows led to several crashes which ended the plane’s promising airline career. The Douglas DC-10 suffered several early crashes due to the flawed design of its cargo doors, which caused them to open mid-flight.'"
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ANTVR - China's Answer To FB's Oculus Rift Is Raising Funds

dryriver dryriver writes  |  about 7 months ago

dryriver (1010635) writes "Chinese technology startup ANTVR (http://www.antvr.com/) is raising funds on Kickstarter (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/805968217/antvr-kit-all-in-one-universal-virtual-reality-kit) for a new, gaming oriented VR Headset capable of rivalling FaceBook's Oculus Rift VR Headset technologically speaking. The ANTVR headset features a full HD screen (1920 x 1080, 1 megapixel per eye), 100 degrees of FOV, 9-axis motion detect with low latency (1 ms), wireless communication, support for Playstation, Xbox, PC, Android gaming platforms, as well as an interesting "virtual gun" type controller that can be folded open into a steering wheel or gamepad-type controller, and also holds batteries that can power the ANTVR for 3 — 8 hours. Interesting technical features include being able to detect whether the ANTVR wearer steps forward, backwards, to the left or to the right, and also whether the wearer crouches or jumps. The ANTVR headset also comes with a viewing window at the bottom of the unit that can be opened, so you can glance down and see your hands and keyboard and mouse for example. What makes ANTVR interesting is that it isn't a "cheap Chinese knockoff of Oculus Rift". A lot of original thought seems to have gone into making ANTVR a "significantly different from a design standpoint" competitor to Oculus Rift. It now remains to be seen how much money ANTVR can raise on Kickstarter, and how many real world users/gamers opt for this new Chinese VR kit over the older — and currently — more famous Oculus Rift."
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Keepod - Can A "7 Dollar USB Stick" Bring Thousands Of Poor People Online?

dryriver dryriver writes  |  about 7 months ago

dryriver (1010635) writes "The BBC reports: 'The USB flash drive is one of the most simple, everyday pieces of technology that many people take for granted. Now it's being eyed as a possible solution to bridging the digital divide, by two colourful entrepreneurs behind the start-up Keepod. Nissan Bahar and Franky Imbesi aim to combat the lack of access to computers by providing what amounts to an operating-system-on-a-stick. In six weeks, their idea managed to raise more than $40,000 (£23,750) on fundraising site Indiegogo, providing the cash to begin a campaign to offer low-cost computing to the two-thirds of the globe's population that currently has little or no access. The test bed for the project is the slums of Nairobi in Kenya. The typical income for the half a million people in the city's Mathare district is about $2 (£1.20) a day. Very few people here use a computer or have access to the net. But Mr Bahar and Mr Imbesi want to change that with their Keepod USB stick. It will allow old, discarded and potentially non-functional PCs to be revived, while allowing each user to have ownership of their own "personal computer" experience — with their chosen desktop layout, programs and data — at a fraction of the cost of providing a unique laptop, tablet or other machine to each person. In addition, the project avoids a problem experienced by some other recycled PC schemes that resulted in machines becoming "clogged up" and running at a snail's pace after multiple users had saved different things to a single hard drive. The two men hope to get up to 150,000 people signed up to their idea in the country.'"
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China Censors 'The Big Bang Theory' And Other Streaming Shows

dryriver dryriver writes  |  about 8 months ago

dryriver (1010635) writes "The Guardian reports: Chinese authorities have ordered video streaming websites in the country to stop showing four popular American TV shows, including The Big Bang Theory and The Good Wife, senior staff from two sites said Sunday. The move suggests government attention is intensifying on the online streaming industry, which is freer than state television and China's cinemas to show foreign productions and other content and has stretched the boundaries of what can be seen in the country. A spokeswoman for a leading online video site, Youku, said it had received notification on Saturday not to show sitcom The Big Bang Theory, political and legal drama The Good Wife, crime drama NCIS and legal drama The Practice. The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television didn't give a reason for its order, said the spokeswoman, who couldn't be named because of company policy. Calls to the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television rang unanswered Sunday. A senior manager at another site, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said it received an order last week to 'clean their website'. The order, which was identical to ones sent to other companies, also listed a Chinese slapstick mini-series made by another site, Sohu, as having to be removed. Sohu did not immediately respond to a request for comment."
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NR: Silicon Valley's Brutal Ageism

dryriver dryriver writes  |  about 9 months ago

dryriver (1010635) writes "New Republic Article About 'Ageism' In The Tech Sector: Silicon Valley has become one of the most ageist places in America. Tech luminaries who otherwise pride themselves on their dedication to meritocracy don’t think twice about deriding the not-actually-old. 'Young people are just smarter,' Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told an audience at Stanford back in 2007. As I write, the website of ServiceNow, a large Santa Clara–based I.T. services company, features the following advisory in large letters atop its 'careers' page: 'We Want People Who Have Their Best Work Ahead of Them, Not Behind Them.' And that’s just what gets said in public. An engineer in his forties recently told me about meeting a tech CEO who was trying to acquire his company. 'You must be the token graybeard,' said the CEO, who was in his late twenties or early thirties. 'I looked at him and said, "No, I’m the token grown-up." ' In talking to dozens of people around Silicon Valley over the past eight months—engineers, entrepreneurs, moneymen, uncomfortably inquisitive cosmetic surgeons—I got the distinct sense that it’s better to be perceived as naïve and immature than to have voted in the 1980s. And so it has fallen to Dr. Matarasso to make older workers look like they still belong at the office. 'It’s really morphed into, "Hey, I’m forty years old and I have to get in front of a board of fresh-faced kids. I can’t look like I have a wife and two-point-five kids and a mortgage," ' he told me. Dr. Matarasso told me that, in ascending order of popularity, the male techies favor laser treatments to clear up broken blood vessels and skin splotches. Next is a treatment called ultherapy—essentially an ultrasound that tightens the skin. 'I’ve had it done of course. I was back at work the next day. There’s zero downtime.' But, as yet, there is no technology that trumps good old-fashioned toxins, the most common treatment for the men of tech. They will go in for a little Botox between the eyes and around the mouth. Like most overachievers, they are preoccupied with the jugular. 'Men really like the neck,' Matarasso said, pointing out the spot in my own platysma muscle where he would inject some toxin to firm things up."
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WHO: Air Pollution "Killed 7 Million People" In 2012

dryriver dryriver writes  |  about 9 months ago

dryriver (1010635) writes "The BBC reports: Seven million people died as a result of air pollution in 2012, the World Health Organization estimates. Its findings suggest a link between air pollution and heart disease, respiratory problems and cancer. One in eight global deaths were linked with air pollution, making it 'the world's largest single environmental health risk', the WHO said. Nearly six million of the deaths had been in South East Asia and the WHO's Western Pacific region, it found. The WHO said about 3.3 million people had died as a result of indoor air pollution and 2.6 million deaths were related to outdoor air pollution, mainly in low- and middle-income countries in those regions. WHO public health, environmental and social determinants of health department director Dr Maria Neira said: 'The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes. Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution.' 'The evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe.' Reducing air pollution could save millions of lives, said the WHO. 'Poor women and children pay a heavy price from indoor air pollution since they spend more time at home breathing in smoke and soot from leaky coal and wood cook stoves.'"
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Ask Slashdot: How Many (Electronics) Gates Is That Software Algorithm?

dryriver dryriver writes  |  about a year ago

dryriver (1010635) writes "Dear Slashdotters: We have developed a graphics algorithm that got an electronics manufacturer interested in turning it into hardware. Here comes the problematic bit... The electronics manufacturer asked us to describe how complex the algorithm is. More specifically, we were asked "How many (logic) gates would be needed to turn your software algorithm into hardware?" This threw us a bit, since none of us have done electronics design before. So here is the question: Is there are a software or other tool that can analyze an algorithm written in C/C++ and estimate how many gates would be needed to turn it into hardware? Or, perhaps, there is a more manual method of converting code lines to gates? Maybe an operation like "Add" would require 3 gates while an operation like "Divide" would need 6 gates? Something like this anyway... To state the question one more time: How do we get from a software algorithm that is N lines long and executes X number of total operations overall, to a rough estimate of how many gates this algorithm would use when translated into electronic hardware?"
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Axiom - The Open-Source, Modular, Crowdfunded, 4K@150FPS Cinema Camera

dryriver dryriver writes  |  about a year ago

dryriver (1010635) writes "Redsharknews.com reports: An outfit named Apertus (www.apertus.org) are working on a 4K raw capable cinema camera called the Axiom that will use open source software at its core — but they are also making the hardware it runs on as open as possible too. To get all this started, and as a kind of "proof of concept", they're building right now a much more limited prototype called the Axiom Alpha. It’s based on the same sensor as the full Axiom (the CMV12000) but it only shoots 1080p (downscaled from 4K) instead of the full 4K that the finished camera will provide. But it’s also based on FGPA technology just like the full 4K Axiom, so the idea is to use the Alpha prototype to get the basic software up and running before moving on to the final release camera. Apertus are not releasing full details of the full 4K Axiom camera yet (The Axiom Omega?) because much of it isn’t set in stone — as you might expect from a fully software updateable camera — but they have stated that it will be 4K, have a Super 35mm Global Shutter, have interchangeable lens mounts, be capable of 150fps at the full 4K resolution, and the biggest thing of all is that it will be fully modular! There will be lots of different modules for doing different things and as it’s open you will even be able to design your own modules! (Subject to time and ability constraints of course) As it is a fully modular system, it means you can strip the camera down to the basic functionality you will need to keep it light and small. For instance if you don’t need sync sound you can just leave the audio module out altogether. On the other hand, if you need the power of the full camera system, it’s just a matter of plugging all the modules together a bit like lego! Of course as new technology comes along, that means you can add new modules as they become available. Perhaps all kinds of metadata will be available from the new MEMS chips and there will be new modules for that ...or an anti-grav module! Who knows what the future will bring?"
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Dyson Patents Hint At 'Silent' Hair Dryer

dryriver dryriver writes  |  about a year ago

dryriver (1010635) writes "The Guardian reports: Whisper it, but it looks like Sir James Dyson – creator of the bladeless fan and bagless vacuum cleaner – is building a silent hair dryer. When Dyson, now 66, became frustrated with his wheelbarrow, he invented the 'Ballbarrow' – replacing the wheel with a ball so it would turn more easily. When he had to vacuum the house, his annoyance at conventional bag cleaners led to the invention of the Dyson cyclone cleaner. Possibly Dyson has become annoyed at the time and especially noise involved in drying his full head of hair. Diagrams that have surfaced at the UK's patents office show that his company has filed patents for 'a hand-held blower with an insulating chamber' – in other words, a hairdryer, which is already being dubbed 'the Hairblade', playing on the name of its Airblade hand dryer. Crucially, he seems to be aiming to make it much quieter than current models – rather as the Dyson bladeless fan is almost silent. Standard hairdryers are extremely loud, reaching up to 75 decibels – as loud as a vacuum cleaner, but held beside your head. The patents, which become public earlier this week, are surprisingly detailed, and show what looks like a hairdryer with an air chamber linked by two smaller cylinders to a smaller base unit. The air would flow through the two cylinders and into the base. The patent publication is a rare slip-up by Dyson, which goes to extraordinary lengths to keep its new products secret. It shrouded the launch of its most recent product – a combined tap-and-hand-dryer – in secrecy, demanding journalists sign non-disclosure agreements. Key among the phrases used in the application in the 56-page application show that it would have 'sound absorbing' and 'vibration absorbing' properties 'tuned to the resonant frequencies of the appliance2. Dyson has also focused on the safety aspect of hairdryers, where anything that gets sucked into the air intake can come into contact with the electrically heated wires which warm up the incoming air and cause a short circuit. It moves the warming element away from the air intake: 'if something is inserted into the appliance, it cannot contact the heater directly,' it says."
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Samsung Offers To End Mobile Patent Wars

dryriver dryriver writes  |  about a year ago

dryriver (1010635) writes "The BBC reports: Samsung has said that it will stop taking rivals to court over certain patent infringements for the next five years. The white flag in the patent battle has been raised because the South Korean electronics firm faces a huge fine for alleged abuses of the system. The move could help end a long-running patent war between the world's largest mobile makers. The EU said that a resolution would bring 'clarity to the industry'. 'Samsung has offered to abstain from seeking injunctions for mobile SEPs (standard essential patents) for a period of five years against any company that agrees to a particular licensing framework,' the European Commission said in a statement. Standard essential patents refer to inventions recognised as being critical to implementing an industry standard technology. Examples of such technologies include the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS), a cellular standard at the heart of 3G data; and H.264, a video compression format used by YouTube, Blu-ray disks and Adobe Flash Player among others. The EU had accused the Samsung of stifling competition by bringing a series of SEP lawsuits against Apple and other rivals. Google's Motorola Mobility has been charged with similar anti-competitive practice. Samsung faced a $18.3bn (£11.3bn) fine if it was found guilty of breaching anti-trust laws. 'Enforcing patents through injunctions can be perfectly legitimate,' said Joaquin Almunia, the European Commission's vice-president in charge of competition policy. 'However, when patents are standard-essential, abuses must be prevented so that standard-setting works properly and consumers do not have to suffer negative consequences from the so-called patent wars. If we reach a good solution in this case, it will bring clarity to the industry,' he added."
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LED Light Bulb Based 'Li-Fi' Closer, Say Chinese Scientists

dryriver dryriver writes  |  about a year ago

dryriver (1010635) writes "The BBC reports: Wi-fi connectivity from a light bulb — or 'li-fi' — has come a step closer, according to Chinese scientists. A microchipped bulb can produce data speeds of up to 150 megabits per second (Mbps), Chi Nan, IT professor at Shanghai's Fudan University told Xinhua News. A one-watt LED light bulb would be enough to provide net connectivity to four computers, researchers say. But experts told the BBC more evidence was needed to back up the claims. There are no supporting video or photos showing the technology in action. Li-fi, also known as visible light communications (VLC), at these speeds would be faster — and cheaper — than the average Chinese broadband connection. In 2011, Prof Harald Haas, an expert in optical wireless communications at the University of Edinburgh, demonstrated how an LED bulb equipped with signal processing technology could stream a high-definition video to a computer. He coined the term 'light fidelity' or li-fi and set up a private company, PureVLC, to exploit the technology. 'We're just as surprised as everyone else by this announcement,' PureVLC spokesman Nikola Serafimovski told the BBC. 'But how valid this is we don't know without seeing more evidence. We remain sceptical.' This year, the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute claimed that data rates of up to 1Gbit/s per LED light frequency were possible in laboratory conditions, making one bulb with three colours potentially capable of transmitting data at up to 3Gbit/s."
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Ukraine-Discovered 400 Meter Asteroid 'May Impact Earth In 2032'

dryriver dryriver writes  |  about a year ago

dryriver (1010635) writes "News.Com.Au reports: A LARGE asteroid has been discovered zipping passed Earth that astronomers say is dangerous and will return on August 26, 2032. 'A 400-metre asteroid is threatening to blow up the Earth,' Russian vice-premier Dmitry Rogozin, in charge of his nation's space research, wrote on his Twitter account. 'Here is a super target for the national cosmonautics.' The asteroid was discovered by astronomers in the Ukraine on Saturday who promptly named it 2013 TV135. The astronomers said they discovered the asteroid was approaching Earth at a potentially dangerous trajectory, RIA Novosti reported. They calculated the potential collision date — with a force as powerful as two thousand atomic bombs — but acknowledged that the odds of an impact are 1 in 63,000. NASA said in a statement, named 'A reality check', that it was 99.998 per cent certain that when it heads back around the planet in 2032 it will sail past again. 'This is a relatively new discovery,' said Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's NEO Program. 'With more observations, I fully expect we will be able to significantly reduce, or rule out entirely, any impact probability for the foreseeable future.' Until further investigation by NASA, the asteroid has a danger rating of 1 out of a possible 10 on the Torino Impact Hazard Scale, the system that gauges the danger of impact destruction by asteroids, CNN reported The 1 rating means that it poses 'no unusual level of danger.' NASA said the asteroid 2013 TV135 'came within 6.7 million kilometres' of Earth — about 20 times as far away from Earth as the moon. On February 15, asteroid 2012 DA14, which was 50m long and weighed 200,000 tonnes, passed around 27,000 kilometres above the Earth."
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New EU Rules To Curb Transfer Of European Data To The U.S.

dryriver dryriver writes  |  about a year ago

dryriver (1010635) writes "The Guardian reports: New European rules aimed at curbing questionable transfers of data from EU countries to the US are being finalised in Brussels in the first concrete reaction to the Edward Snowden disclosures on US and British mass surveillance of digital communications. Regulations on European data protection standards are expected to pass the European parliament committee stage on Monday after the various political groupings agreed on a new compromise draft following two years of gridlock on the issue. The draft would make it harder for the big US internet servers and social media providers to transfer European data to third countries, subject them to EU law rather than secret American court orders, and authorise swingeing fines possibly running into the billions for the first time for not complying with the new rules. 'As parliamentarians, as politicians, as governments we have lost control over our intelligence services. We have to get it back again,' said Jan Philipp Albrecht, the German Greens MEP who is steering the data protection regulation through the parliament. Data privacy in the EU is currently under the authority of national governments with standards varying enormously across the 28 countries, complicating efforts to arrive at satisfactory data transfer agreements with the US. The current rules are easily sidestepped by the big Silicon Valley companies, Brussels argues. The new rules, if agreed, would ban the transfer of data unless based on EU law or under a new transatlantic pact with the Americans complying with EU law. 'Without any concrete agreement there would be no data processing by telecommunications and internet companies allowed,' says a summary of the proposed new regime. Such bans were foreseen in initial wording two years ago but were dropped under the pressure of intense lobbying from Washington. The proposed ban has been revived directly as a result of the uproar over operations by the US's National Security Agency (NSA)."
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How Science Goes Wrong

dryriver dryriver writes  |  about a year ago

dryriver (1010635) writes "The Economist reports: A SIMPLE idea underpins science: 'trust, but verify'. Results should always be subject to challenge from experiment. That simple but powerful idea has generated a vast body of knowledge. Since its birth in the 17th century, modern science has changed the world beyond recognition, and overwhelmingly for the better. But success can breed complacency. Modern scientists are doing too much trusting and not enough verifying—to the detriment of the whole of science, and of humanity. Too many of the findings that fill the academic ether are the result of shoddy experiments or poor analysis (see article). A rule of thumb among biotechnology venture-capitalists is that half of published research cannot be replicated. Even that may be optimistic. Last year researchers at one biotech firm, Amgen, found they could reproduce just six of 53 'landmark' studies in cancer research. Earlier, a group at Bayer, a drug company, managed to repeat just a quarter of 67 similarly important papers. A leading computer scientist frets that three-quarters of papers in his subfield are bunk. In 2000-10 roughly 80,000 patients took part in clinical trials based on research that was later retracted because of mistakes or improprieties. Even when flawed research does not put people’s lives at risk—and much of it is too far from the market to do so—it squanders money and the efforts of some of the world’s best minds. The opportunity costs of stymied progress are hard to quantify, but they are likely to be vast. And they could be rising."
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570 Kg (1,255 lb) Meteor Fragment Pulled Out Of Russian Lake

dryriver dryriver writes  |  about a year ago

dryriver (1010635) writes "The BBC reports: Divers working at a Russian lake have recovered a half-tonne chunk of the space rock that exploded over Chelyabinsk earlier this year. The object plunged into Lake Chebarkul in central Russia on 15 February, leaving a 6m-wide hole in the ice. Scientists say that it is the largest fragment of the meteorite yet found. More than 1,000 people were injured when a 17m, 10,000-tonne space rock burned up over Central Russia, breaking windows and rocking buildings. Live footage showed a team pull out a 1.5-metre-long (five-foot-long) rock from the lake after first wrapping it in a special covering and placing it on a metal sheet while it was still underwater. The fragment was then pulled ashore and placed on top of a scale for weighing, an operation that quickly went wrong. The rock broke up into at least three large pieces as it was lifted from the ground with the help of levers and ropes. Then the scale itself broke, the moment it hit the 570kg (1,255lb) mark. Dr Caroline Smith, curator of meteorites at London's Natural History Museum, confirmed that the object was a meteorite from characteristic features known as fusion crust and regmaglypts, which are obvious in images. She told BBC News: "Fusion crust forms as the meteoroid is travelling through the atmosphere as a fireball."
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UK PM David Cameron Wants Guardian Newspaper "Investigated" Over Snowden Stories

dryriver dryriver writes  |  about a year ago

dryriver (1010635) writes "The Guardian reports: British Prime Minister David Cameron has encouraged a Commons select committee to investigate whether the Guardian has broken the law or damaged national security by publishing secrets leaked by the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. He made his proposal in response to a question from former defence secretary Liam Fox, saying the Guardian had been guilty of double standards for exposing the scandal of phone hacking by newspapers and yet had gone on to publish secrets from the NSA taken by Snowden. Speaking at prime minister's questions on Wednesday, Cameron said: 'The plain fact is that what has happened has damaged national security and in many ways the Guardian themselves admitted that when they agreed, when asked politely by my national security adviser and cabinet secretary to destroy the files they had, they went ahead and destroyed those files. 'So they know that what they're dealing with is dangerous for national security. I think it's up to select committees in this house if they want to examine this issue and make further recommendations.' There are as many as four committees that might take up David Cameron's suggestion, including the culture select committee, the home affairs select committee, the defence select committee and the intelligence and security select committee."
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TDK Is Working On 40 TB HDDs For 2020 Launch

dryriver dryriver writes  |  about a year ago

dryriver (1010635) writes "Crazyengineers.com reports: 'With our cameras going full HD and the world moving over to 4K videos, it's no surprise that our digital data storage needs are going to grow exponentially in coming days. Our current generation of HDDs are capable of storing only a few hundred GBs now, with the max storage hitting limits at about 3TB in the 3.5" form factor. TDK understands this need and has already began working on a new heat-assisted recording technology that will allow creation of HDDs that can store up to 40 TB of data. It will eliminate the limitations imposed by the current technique that uses recording media with high magnetic coercivity. Coercivity of the medium aka the quantity of reverse magnetic field required to change the value of the data to be stored is decreased through laser assisted heating. The overall effect is that the recording density of the medium gets increased. The issue with laser assisted heating is that it ends up heating the parts of the medium that shouldn't be touched. This often results into loss of important data. This can be avoided by using a very focused & sharp laser so that heating can be localised with desired precision. TDK's engineers have developed a new type of device, which they call 'near-field light generator' to localise the heating to area of just a few nanometers wide. TDK says this technique allows them to have a light spot in 1/10 of the area used in Blu-Ray disk recording."
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NTT Docomo Smart-Glasses That Can 'Translate A Restaurant Menu' Unveiled

dryriver dryriver writes  |  about a year ago

dryriver (1010635) writes "Glasses that can translate a restaurant menu in a foreign language have been demonstrated by a major Japanese mobile operator. NTT Docomo's wearable Intelligent Glasses can project an image of translated text over unfamiliar characters, the company said. The spectacles also allow the wearer to view and manipulate virtual images. The wearable technology was demonstrated at Ceatec 2013, a consumer electronics show in Japan. NTT Docomo said that Intelligent Glasses could be a boon to tourists. "Character recognition technology enables instant language translation for users travelling abroad and reading restaurant menus and other documents," NTT Docomo said. The glasses, which are still at a research stage, can show translated text in a user's first language, according to the company. The head-mounted display can translate Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean languages. Translation takes over five seconds for the prototype. The technology can also turn flat surfaces into pseudo-touchscreens, NTT Docomo said."
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