By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Intel announced today that it is opening new Project Athena Open Labs in Taipei, Shanghai, and Folsom California, to test and certify the new Athena designs that will come to market in 2020. From a report: Intel announced Project Athena, a new initiative designed to user in the next wave of powerful laptops, at CES 2019. The program is reminiscent of Intel's Ultrabook initiative that pushed the transition to thin-and-light designs, but Athena focuses on increasing performance and responsiveness within the form factors we're accustomed to, meaning the company isn't pushing for thinner devices. Athena-based designs will also deliver up to 20 hours of battery life, near-instant resumption from sleep states (the laptop will pop to life immediately when you open the lid), 5G connectivity, and AI technologies to improve productivity. These new devices will come to market from laptop OEMs, but Intel will co-develop and certify the products.
It's easy to see this push for what it is: a new class of laptops to address the rise of Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered Always Connected PCs (ACPCs), but that should help usher in a new wave of innovation. Intel says the first fruits of this program will come to market in the latter half of 2019, so we expect to see new designs debut at Computex later this month. Some of the first products will come wielding Intel's 10nm Ice Lake processors, but Intel also plans to support new Athena-based designs with its Y- and U-series processors.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's about-time department
Video games popular among kids would be prohibited from offering "loot boxes" or randomized assortments of digital weapons, clothing and other items that can be purchased for a fee, under federal legislation to be introduced by Republican Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.). From a report: Hawley's Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act takes aim at a growing industry revenue stream that analysts say could be worth more than $50 billion -- but one that increasingly has triggered worldwide scrutiny out of fear it fosters addictive behaviors and entices kids to gamble. Hawley's proposed bill, outlined Wednesday, covers games explicitly targeted to players under age 18 as well as those for broader audiences where developers are aware that kids are making in-game purchases. Along with outlawing loot boxes, these video games also would be banned from offering "pay to win" schemes, where players must spend money to access additional content or gain digital advantages over rival players.
"Social media and video games prey on user addiction, siphoning our kids' attention from the real world and extracting profits from fostering compulsive habits," Hawley said in a statement. "No matter this business model's advantages to the tech industry, one thing is clear: There is no excuse for exploiting children through such practices." Offering one "notorious example," Hawley's office pointed to Candy Crush, a popular, free smartphone puzzle app that allows users to spend $149.99 on a bundle of goods that include virtual currency and other items that make the game easier to play.Read Replies (0)
Google Fights Back
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '19 at 08:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's google-vs-facebook department
Ben Thompson, writing for Stratechery: For a company famed for its engineering culture, you wouldn't expect a video at Google's annual I/O developer conference to have such emotional resonance. And yet, just watch (I have included the context around the video in question, which starts at the 2:33 mark): "I liked that very much." This was the most direct statement of what was a clear theme from Google's entire keynote: "Technology, particularly Google's technology, is a good thing, and we are going to remind you why you like it."
As he opened the keynote, CEO Sundar Pichai, as he always does, repeated Google's mission statements: "It all begins with our mission to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful, and today, our mission feels as relevant as ever." Pichai, though, quickly pivoted to something rather different than simply organizing and presenting information: "The way we approach it is constantly evolving. We are moving from a company that helps you find answers to a company that helps you get things done... We want our products to work harder for you in the context of your job, your home, and your life, and they all share a single goal: to be helpful, so we can be there for you in moments big and small over the course of your day."
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By msmash from Slashdot's stigma-of-being-a-default department
An anonymous reader shares a report: In a private school where tuition is high, students can bicker about clothes, shoe brands, cellphones, or video games. At Paul Towler's middle school, where he teaches English to seventh and eighth graders, some kids "have enough money to be comfortable and others' parents are owners of giant nationwide restaurant chains," he says. Towler is used to seeing such disparities play out in the real world through objects that you can physically hold. But after battle royale sensation Fortnite exploded, the fights between students took an unexpected turn. Fortnite's virtual clothes became a status symbol, and some of Towler's pupils started policing what their classmates wore in-game.
The confrontations could get ugly. One student in Towler's class "begged his parents for [money] to buy a skin because no one would play with him" because he wore basic virtual clothes. While the bullying wasn't always Fortnite-specific, Towler recalls that it seemed "vicious for [the student] to have another avenue for the meaner kids to attack him." Things got better for that kid, but when your social scene begins and ends with Fortnite, having nobody to play with is like a mark of death.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's future-of-drinking-water department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: [T]he ability to quickly and easily desalinate water has long been a goal of scientists around the world. And now, a group of researchers from Columbia University believe they've found a way to do it. The process is called Temperature Swing Solvent Extraction (TSSE) and it's designed to purify hypersaline brines (water that contains a high concentration of salts, making it up to seven times as salty as seawater). This kind of waste water is produced by industrial processes and during oil and gas production and it poses a major pollution risk to groundwater.
The research team, led by Columbia Engineering's assistant professor of earth and environmental engineering Ngai Yin Yip, mixed a solvent (dyed red) in with a sample of hypersaline brine (dyed blue). The liquids appear to stay separated in the jar, but after heating them, and then decanting the red solvent into another jar to be heated separately, the team was left with a layer of clear water. While the science is complicated, the above video shows the process in a pretty simple way (no chemistry PhD required). What's most exciting about the process is its implications. The team was able to remove up to 98.4% of the salt, which is comparable to the current "gold standard" process, reverse osmosis. But unlike reverse osmosis or other methods of desalination, this process doesn't require high temperatures or high pressures -- just a low-grade heat of less than 70C (158F). The study has been published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's to-boldly-go-where-no-man-has-gone-before department
Slashdot reader schwit1 shares a report from USA Today discussing a new book from famed astronautical engineer Bob Zubrin, who makes the case for why we should go to space -- not only for the knowledge and challenge, but to "ensure our survival and protect our freedom." Among the reasons why he thinks we need to spread out through the Solar System (and perhaps beyond):
For the Knowledge: We know little about the universe, despite our conceit that we have things figured out. The farther we go, the more new things we will encounter, and the more our knowledge and understanding will expand.
For the Challenge: Zubrin looks at the way the Age of Exploration rejuvenated a stagnant Europe at the beginning of the 16th Century, and the way the American frontier imparted a dynamism to American culture that, since that frontier's closing, seems to have faded. New frontiers, with their array of opportunities and challenges, make an excellent antidote to stagnation, aristocracy and zero-sum thinking.
For Our Survival: Last week saw reports that an 1100-foot asteroid will pass within 13,000 miles of earth -- that's closer than many satellites -- in less than a decade. (The famous Barringer Meteor Crater in Arizona was made by an asteroid a fraction that size, and exploded with the force of more than 100 Nagasaki-sized atomic bombs). These asteroid encounters turn out to be much more common than once thought, and the likelihood of a strike is high enough that authorities are rehearsing a response. With a strong space economy, deflecting dangerous asteroids will be easy. Without it, we're just sitting ducks in a cosmic shooting gallery.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's proof-of-concept department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: An international team of scientists has demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to generate a measurable amount of electricity in a diode directly from the coldness of the universe. The infrared semiconductor device faces the sky and uses the temperature difference between Earth and space to produce the electricity. In contrast to leveraging incoming energy as a normal solar cell would, the negative illumination effect allows electrical energy to be harvested as heat leaves a surface. Today's technology, though, does not capture energy over these negative temperature differences as efficiently. By pointing their device toward space, whose temperature approaches mere degrees from absolute zero, the group was able to find a great enough temperature difference to generate power through an early design.
The group found that their negative illumination diode generated about 64 nanowatts per square meter, a tiny amount of electricity, but an important proof of concept, that the authors can improve on by enhancing the quantum optoelectronic properties of the materials they use. Calculations made after the diode created electricity showed that, when atmospheric effects are taken into consideration, the current device can theoretically generate almost 4 watts per square meter, roughly one million times what the group's device generated and enough to help power machinery that is required to run at night. By comparison, today's solar panels generate 100 to 200 watts per square meter. The study has been published in the journal Applied Physics Letters.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's technical-difficulties department
Detroit's Public Lighting Authority has filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the manufacturer of nearly a third of the city's 65,000 streetlights, after it found that upward of 20,000 LED lights are "prematurely dimming and burning out" and putting the city's revitalization progress "in jeopardy." The city estimates a fix would cost millions. Detroit News reports: The issue was discovered last fall during routine surveys of the lighting system, and it's tied to defective units that were either "charred, burned, or cracked," according to a February letter from the lighting authority's law firm. The California-based manufacturer (Leotek Electronics USA) acknowledged in a December letter to the lighting authority that it had experienced "a higher number of reports of failures" in models dimming city streets, primarily in west side neighborhoods and a number of Detroit's major thoroughfares.
In the Dec. 17 letter, Leotek administrator Hy Nguyen said the company had determined "the problem is excessive heat that can burn the lens directly above the LED." "We apologize for the problem you have experienced and will work with you to correct the problems," Nguyen wrote. But in recent weeks, Leotek officials have gone silent, according to the lighting authority. A representative for Leotek did not respond Monday to requests for comment. The lighting project has been held up by Mayor Mike Duggan and others as an early success in the city's effort to restore basic services. Before the three-year, $185 million overhaul, about 40% of Detroit's 88,000 streetlights didn't work. The LED lights provided by Leotek were anticipated to last for at least a decade.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's it's-about-time department
After more than six months of no updates, Google has finally updated its Android distribution data. Android Pie, the latest version of Google's mobile operating system, has passed the 10% adoption mark. VentureBeat reports: The Android developer website hosts a distribution dashboard that details the adoption of Google's mobile operating system versions. With over 2.5 billion active Android devices out there, this is useful information that Google used to update on a monthly cadence. For anyone who makes decisions regarding Android, it's incredibly valuable to know how widely (or narrowly) an Android version -- or more importantly, an API level -- has been adopted.
The distribution numbers were last updated in October 2018. In early December, Google added a small note below the chart: "(update coming soon: data feed under maintenance)." Months passed and the company would not explain what was going on, until today, when it finally updated the numbers. In short, Google is blaming a technical glitch, says it has resolved the issue, and is promising to keep the dashboard updated again. But those updates won't come on a monthly cadence anymore -- about quarterly is more likely, Google told VentureBeat. The Android adoption order now stands as follows: Oreo in first place, Nougat in second place, Marshmallow in third, Lollipop in fourth, Pie in fifth, KitKat in sixth, Jelly Bean in seventh, ICS in eighth, and Gingerbread in last. It will be a few more months before Pie can break into the top three.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's contrary-to-popular-belief department
A new study from the University of Oxford claims screen time doesn't have a detrimental impact on young people's brains, like so many researchers have claimed. Instead, it says family, friends and school life all had a greater impact on wellbeing. An anonymous reader shares the report from ZDNet: The researchers' skepticism was based on the Grand Theory of Chicken and Egg. As one of the lead researchers, Amy Orben explained: "The previous literature was based almost entirely on correlations with no means to dissociate whether social media use leads to changes in life satisfaction or changes in life satisfaction influence social media use." Quite. Does social media make kids -- or anyone else, for that matter -- miserable? Or do miserable people turn to social media in search of, well, something?
These researchers spoke to 12,000 UK teens and concluded that the effect of social media on their life satisfaction was tiny. Indeed, as another of the lead researchers, Professor Andrew Przybylski told the BBC: "99.75 percent of a person's life satisfaction has nothing to do with their use of social media." Nothing has really changed, he said. Family, friends and school life are still the dominating factors in teen happiness. Moreover, Przybylski took the time to completely contradict Apple CEO and his pained worries about screen time. Przybylski put it quite baldly: "Parents shouldn't worry about time on social media. Thinking about it that way is wrong." For perfect measure, he added: "We need to retire this notion of screen time."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
schwit1 shares a report: At least eight studies in the last seven years have looked at what happens specifically in a room accumulating carbon dioxide, a main ingredient in our exhalations. While the results are inconsistent, they are also intriguing. They suggest that while the kinds of air pollution known to cause cancer and asthma remain much more pressing as public health concerns, there may also be pollutants whose most detrimental effects are on the mind, rather than the body.
So can you trust the decisions made in small rooms? How much does the quality of air indoors affect your cognitive abilities? And as our knowledge of indoor air's effects grows, do we need to revise how we design and use our buildings? Buildings in the United States have grown better sealed in the last 50 years, helping reduce energy used in heating and cooling. That's also made it easier for gasses and other substances released by humans and our belongings to build up inside. Although indoor air quality is not as well monitored as the air outdoors, scientists and ventilation professionals have extensively monitored carbon dioxide indoors. Higher CO2 levels -- say, above 1,200 parts per million (ppm) -- often indicate a low ventilation rate. Worrisome substances emitted by new furniture, office supplies and carpets could be accumulating in the air.Read Replies (0)