By Roblimo from Slashdot's gonna-take-you-higher department
, weather balloon, near-space exploration package... call it what you will, but today's interviewee, Jamel Tayeb
, is hanging instrument packages and cameras below balloons and sending them up to 97,000 feet (his highest so far), then recovering them 50 or 60 miles away from their liftoff points with help from a locator beacon -- and not just any locator beacon, mind you, but a special one from a company called High Altitude Science
with "unlocked" firmware that allows it to work with GPS satellites from altitudes greater than 60,000 feet, which typical, off-the-shelf GPS units can't do.
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By timothy from Slashdot's popular-delusions department
New submitter operator_error
writes with a story at the L.A. Times that echoes some previous research on the relative risks of hand-held vs. hands-free phones by drivers
, and comes to an even grimmer conclusion: In many cars, making a hands-free phone call can be more distracting than picking up your phone, according to a new study from AAA and the University of Utah. In-dash phone systems are overly complicated and prone to errors, the study found, and the same is true for voice-activated functions for music and navigation. A companion study also found that trying to use Siri — the voice control system on Apple phones — while driving was dangerously distracting. Two participants in the study had virtual crashes in an automotive simulator while attempting to use Siri, the study's authors reported. In response, Toyota said the study did not show a link between cognitive distraction and car crashes. "The results actually tell us very little about the relative benefits of in-vehicle versus hand-held systems; or about the relationship between cognitive load and crash risks," said Mike Michels, a Toyota spokesman.
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By Soulskill from Slashdot's or-at-least-a-phone-of-middling-intelligence department
An anonymous reader writes: Ars Technica got its hands on one of the extremely low-cost smart phones running Firefox OS. The Intex Cloud FX retails for about $35 in India, and its intent is to bring smartphones to people who traditionally can't afford them. So, what do you have to sacrifice to bring a smartphone's costs down that far? Well, it has a 3.5" 480x320 display, a 1Ghz A5 CPU, 128MB of RAM, and 256 MB of storage. (Those a megabytes.) There's no GPS, no notification LED, and not even 3G support. They say the build quality is as poor as you'd expect, and if you aren't at a 90 degree angle with the screen, colors are distorted. But, again: it's $35 — this is to be expected.
How well does the phone work? Well, the UI works well enough, but multitasking is rough. Everything's functional, but slow, sometimes taking several seconds to register touch input. The real killer, according to the article, is the on-screen keyboard, which is unbearable. The article concludes, "Sure, we're spoiled, "rich" people compared to the target market, but it's hard to believe that this is a "best attempt" at a cheap smartphone. ... The problem is that Firefox OS just isn't the right choice of operating system for this device—it's trying to do way too much with the limited hardware. It isn't configurable enough." They say the phone doesn't even make sense for a $35 budget.Read Replies (0)