Latest Computer and IT Support Industry News
At today’s Bay Area Maker Fair, Arduino announced its newest board—the Arduino Yún. The board is an Arduino Leonardo running Linino, a Linux fork based on OpenWRT. The board is Wi-Fi capable, which Arduino hopes will encourage people to use the boards to make cloud-ready projects.
In an official statement the company explained: “Historically, interfacing Arduino with complex Web services has been quite a challenge due to the limited memory available. Web services tend to use verbose text-based formats like XML that require quite a lot or ram to parse. On the Arduino Yún we have created the Bridge library which delegates all network connections and processing of HTTP transactions to the Linux machine.”
Earlier this week, another company called Spark Devices launched a similar idea on Kickstarter called Spark Core. That initiative puts forward a Wi-Fi capable board for Arduino projects that permits wireless programming and the ability to interface with Web services. The company originally asked for $10,000 and has since raised more than $300,000. (The campaign ends June 1.)
This is the second in our series of reboots that need the boot. We looked first at Alien vs. Predator. The third installment releases Sunday on Ars Technica.
There is a small handful of game series that I've sunk thousands of hours of my life into. The most enduring of them all is SimCity, the city simulator. A considerable chunk of my gaming career has been spent building large, sprawling metropolises: zoning land, redesigning transport infrastructure, balancing budgets, building public amenities, and occasionally burning the entire thing to the ground.
As much as I loved the series, it was long in the tooth. SimCity 4 was released a decade ago and though it remains to this day an enjoyable game (especially with third-party modifications) its age is readily apparent. The graphics look a little stale, there are performance and compatibility issues, and it lacks features that people want, such as co-operative multiplayer city-building.
We spent the week at I/O sitting in sessions, walking around the show floor, and congregating with developers. After the keynote, things got quieter on the news front but there was still plenty to learn about. This conference is about community, bringing together developers of all types, and connecting people with similar interests and backgrounds. It's also about adorable little Androids, which absolutely overwhelmed downtown San Francisco's convention center, the Moscone Center.The Google Store
A Google Store employee models the Android Superhero costume, available for a mere $32.80. There was no word on compatibility with the YouTube Socks.
14 more images in gallery
Imagine a future where solar panels speed off the presses like newspaper. Australian scientists have brought us one step closer to that reality.
Researchers from the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC) developed a printer that can print 10 meters (about 33 feet) of flexible solar cells a minute. Unlike traditional silicon solar cells, printed solar cells are made using organic semi-conducting polymers. These can be dissolved in a solvent and used like an ink, allowing solar cells to be printed.
Not only can the VICOSC machine print flexible A3 solar cells, the machine can print directly on to steel. It opens up the possibility for solar cells to be embedded directly into building materials.
Dokkat appears to think that databases are overused. "Instead of a database, I just serialize my data to JSON, saving and loading it to disk when necessary," he writes. "All the data management is made on the program itself, which is faster AND easier than using SQL queries." What is missing here? Why should a developer use a database when saving data to a disk might work just as well?
See the original question here.
Marijuana may make you overeat, but it could be an effective diabetes treatment. Lighting up a bit of weed is often blamed for people going on uninhibited eating binges, so it's a bit of a surprise to find a study saying that regular marijuana use is associated with a slimmer waistline. Perhaps even more striking, however, is the affect it had on metabolism, where it drops resting blood glucose levels. These results are consistent with past indications that marijuana users have a lower incidence of diabetes. The one unusual thing here is that the new study found no indication of a dose response.
An early pregnancy test probably ended up killing lots of North American amphibians. We recently ran a story that suggested that international trade helped take a fungus that infects amphibians and turn it into a global killer. Now we have some idea of exactly what was being traded: raw materials for human pregnancy tests. The raw materials in question? Frogs. Xenopus laevis is commonly used in biology research because it's a prodigious producer of eggs that can be used to study embryonic development. But before we knew how to directly detect the proteins in human urine that signaled pregnancy, someone figured out a way to do so indirectly: they made the frogs ovulate.
So, we dragged in a bunch of frogs from Africa to use for pregnancy tests and, one way or another, they established themselves in the wilds of California. Now, a study of samples from frogs found decades ago in California and Africa show that these Xenopus are asymptomatic carriers of the fungus that's now killing other frog species around the globe. There's a very good chance that these hopping pregnancy tests managed to bring it to North America.
This week, a handful of Ars staffers gathered in San Francisco to see the new Star Trek movie at Starfleet Headquarters. (OK, just kidding, we saw the movie at the local Metreon. Most of us were there for Google I/O, the company's annual developer conference.) Besides Google's conference and the rare sight of more than three Ars employees sharing IRL space with each other, this week also included some notable stories on the front page. Specifically, we wrote about a Soviet defense satellite that almost came to be and about how the people behind League of Legends are trying to foster a more civil atmosphere in games.“Bdysch!”
Guest writer Amy Teitel brought us the story of The secret laser-toting Soviet satellite that almost was and commenters wasted no time diving into the specifics of the political and military atmosphere of the early 80's, when our article takes place. The most interesting were a handful of commenters who brought us first-hand experiences. ucla74 wrote:
"I was an Air Force officer stationed in West Germany at the time of this failed launch. We were deploying the Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM) system in western Europe, and our unit had just achieved Initial Operational Capability—we were poised to deliver warheads against both strategic and tactical targets inside the Soviet Bloc.
Following the Polyus failure, the US and USSR signed the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, which banned GLCM, the Army's Pershing II medium-range ballistic missile system, and the Soviet Union's SS-20 MRBMs, which in turn significantly enhanced the stabilization of Central Europe. While I doubt Polyus was the driving factor behind INF, I feel certain it contributed to Gorbachev's readiness to negotiate at least one threat to the Soviet bloc.
AgentSmith40 also gave us his perspective:
“This stuff matters.”
Jon Lander, the executive producer of CCP Games’ EVE Online, tells me this during an interview on the first proper day of the company’s Fanfest 2013 event in Reykjavik, Iceland last month. He doesn’t seem to mean much by it and at the time I took it as a throwaway comment. We were in the midst of a larger conversation about monetization and his company’s business practices.
However, after three days surrounded by developers and EVE devotees, I came to understand this as the foundational idea and central thesis of the game. All human interaction—be it face-to-face, in an online forum, or expressed through a series of intricate systems and delicate game mechanics—has value.
Apple hasn't announced a significant update to any of its hardware since October of 2012, but if you're itching to get your hands on something new the wait may soon be over. AppleInsider reports that supplies of Apple's MacBook Air are beginning to shrink ahead of next month's Worldwide Developer Conference, with multiple major retailers listing the high-end 13-inch model in particular as "out of stock." The MacBook Air was last refreshed at WWDC in June of 2012.
Apple's strict command of its supply chain means that it tends not to have a lot of excess inventory sitting around in warehouses—according to a Gartner report from about a year ago Apple can turn over its entire inventory of product in about five days. Reduced inventory for current products tends to indicate that new ones are around the corner.
If that by itself isn't enough evidence for you, consider that Mac hardware refreshes generally tend to be tied to Intel's hardware cycles and that Intel's next-generation Haswell architecture (with its enhanced integrated GPUs) is all-but-guaranteed to be announced at Computex at the beginning of next month. When it launched Ivy Bridge last year, low-voltage CPUs intended for thin-and-light laptops were among the first to be released, meaning that by the time WWDC rolls around, Apple will likely have the CPUs it needs to make next-generation MacBook Airs happen.
Four lawyers linked to the embattled copyright-trolling Prenda Law operation were slapped with a sanctions order earlier this month, ordering them to pay more than $80,000 in penalties and referring them to state bar investigators as well as the US Attorney's office.
The only one who has spoken publicly, John Steele, said he will appeal. Now, papers have been filed by Steele's comrade-in-arms Paul Hansmeier, asking the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to stay the sanctions issued by US District Judge Otis Wright while Hansmeier puts together a proper appeal. Hansmeier filed the motion late Thursday, just days before the May 21 deadline to pay the $81,319.72.
"The district court failed to afford Appellant even the most basic due process protections, such as the ability to cross- examine adverse witnesses or to object to the introduction of improper evidence against him, let alone the strict due process protections that would be available in a criminal contempt proceeding," writes Hansmeier in his plea to the appeals court. "The impending actions of the district court threaten to damage Appellant’s reputation in the legal community, in turn damaging his ability to attract clients and to represent them effectively, in a manner that will be irremediable through the normal appellate process without a stay of execution."
SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Although Google's keynote at the I/O conference this week focused heavily on the APIs and behind-the-scenes development of the Android operating system, it looks like there's a lot more in store. This idea was especially apparent in a panel discussion today involving eleven members of the Android development team. The team sat for a forty-minute question and answer session, and while they dodged most inquiries about forthcoming features for Android, they did offer a bit of insight into what the future of Android might look like, what developers could do to help further the platform, and what they’ve learned from their journey thus far.
The conversation began with a question relating to whether or not the Android team would have done anything differently from the beginning. Senior Android Engineer Dianne Hackborn said the team "should have had more control over applications. A big example is the whole settings provider, where we just let applications go and write to it... it was a simple thing that we shouldn’t have done." Ficus Kirkpatrick, one of the founding members of the Android team and the current lead for the Google Play Store team, added that “you’re never going to get everything right the first time. I don’t really regret any of the mistakes we’ve made. I think getting things out there at the speed we did…was the most important thing.”
The team also briefly touched on fragmentation and how they’re working to combat the issue—it was even referred to as the “F” word. "This is something we think about a lot,” said Dave Burke, engineering director of the Android platform. He explained that many silicon vendors take the open source code, break it apart, and create their own Board Support Packages (BSPs) to make their hardware compatible with the software. To streamline the process, the Android team made the code for the platform more layered, so if a vendor needs to make changes, they have a clean abstraction layer to do so without affecting the entire operating system.
Today Acer held a press conference in New York to announce a variety of new products. Given the timing, it’s no surprise that Intel 4th Generation CPUs aren’t specifically listed, though we expect additional updates in the coming months. What we have in the meantime are a few interesting takes on where computing and touchscreen interfaces are headed. We’ll start with the Aspire R7, which is the most unusual of the new offerings.
Equipped with a 1080p IPS touchscreen, Acer has decided to try a different approach to the touchscreen laptop. Now, instead of having the touchpad in front of the keyboard, it’s located above the keyboard and the display hinge can shift forward to bring the touchscreen experience closer to the user. The screen can also flip 180 degrees for easy sharing of content, it can lie (mostly) flat against the chassis, or it can even rest in an elevated “table” position.
The core hardware for the R7 is standard Ultrabook fare (though the R7 isn’t and Ultrabook), with an optional GeForce GT 750M available. That means processor choices consist of the i5-3337U and the i7-3537U, both slightly faster versions of the 3rd Generation Ivy Bridge CPUs we’ve had for a year or so now. There will be models with HDDs as well as SSD equipped options, and in addition to the usual WiFi and Bluetooth you get two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, four stereo speakers, and dual array microphone, webcam, HDMI, and SD car ports. Battery life is rated at 4.5 hours (53Wh battery), which is on the low side for a 5.3 pound laptop.
The idea of a 15.6” convertible laptop/tablet/thingy is interesting, though not necessarily something we’ve seen a lot of users clamoring for. I suspect this may turn into one of those love-it or hate-it affairs, depending on the user. Acer also notes that they’ve created a very durable "Ezel" hinge so that the screen will stay in place wherever you put it, though as I wasn’t at the launch party I can’t provide any specific comments on how it feels in practice right now.
Pricing is listed as $1000 for the “Best Buy model” that will include a free copy of Star Trek: The Video Game and will come with a Core i5 CPU, 6GB RAM, 500GB HDD, and a 24GB caching SSD. The R7-571-6858 will be available at Best Buy on May 17th and is available for pre-order now; other models will follow.
This is the first in our series of reboots that need the boot. Look for the next installments this Saturday and Sunday on Ars Technica.
There's no movie franchise closer to my heart than 20th Century Fox's Aliens series of movies—I grew up watching Alien and Aliens, and for better or for worse the movies helped make me into the upstanding individual I am today (Ha! Take that, child psychologists!). The best thing that can be said about the Aliens vs. Predator series of spin-off films is that they are at least fun popcorn fare—no one, not even the studio executives, could argue that the films are good by any stretch of the imagination.
But Aliens vs. Predator has for decades been a pairing that makes the fanboy heart race. Pairing two unstoppable killers against each other is a fun idea, and even I have to admit that it makes for an exciting video game. The AvP concept has been tried out many times on many different systems, but by far the best iteration of the formula was Monolith Productions' 2000 title Aliens vs. Predator 2. It has a great single-player story split across three separate but equally interesting campaigns: one each for the titular alien and predator and a third for the humans, because it's not AvP without some gun-toting Colonial Marines bringing the rock and roll to the party. The game also has a well-balanced multiplayer, but it's not too well-balanced; I have plenty of not-so-fond memories of one particular LAN party where someone dominated an entire afternoon by expertly bouncing grenades around the map (cough-cough-JUSTIN-cough).
Stealthy Mac OS X spyware that was digitally signed with a valid Apple Developer ID has been detected on the laptop of an Angolan activist attending a human rights conference, researchers said.
The backdoor, which is programmed to take screenshots and send them to remote servers under the control of the attackers, was spread using a spear phishing e-mail, according to privacy activist Jacob Appelbaum. Spear phishing is a term for highly targeted e-mails that address the receiver by name and usually appear to come from someone the receiver knows. The e-mails typically discuss topics the two people have talked about before. According to AV provider F-Secure, the malware was discovered during a workshop showing freedom of speech activists how to secure their devices against government monitoring.
The malware was signed with a valid Apple Developer ID allowing it to more easily bypass the Gatekeeper feature Apple introduced in the Mountain Lion version of OS X. If it's not the first time Mac malware has carried such a digital assurance, it's certainly among the first. Both F-Secure and Appelbaum said the backdoor, identified as OSX/KitM.A, is new and previously unknown. For its part, AV provider Intego said the malware is a variant of a previously seen trojan known as OSX/FileSteal. Intego continued:
These days, when physicists talk about light, they like to divide it into two categories: classical and non-classical. Of course, classical light is the boring, everyday stuff that anyone gets delivered to their doorstep roughly 12 hours every day. But non-classical light is harder to get hold of and, for physicists, obtaining non-classical light states seems to be just one step short of world domination (provided your definition of world domination involves doing quantum cryptography and quantum computing).
But like cheap knock-off goods, genuine non-classical light can be hard to distinguish from ordinary, old-fashioned classical light. Until now, that is. A group of researchers, mainly from Oxford, have figured out a new way to distinguish the two brands of light. It is very clever and relatively simple. So simple that I just have to tell you all about it.Classical/non-classical? And who cares?
The difference between classical and non-classical light states is one of statistics. Classical light sources behave one way, and non-classical light sources behave another way. The primary example of this is bunched and anti-bunched light.
It's May 15th, 2013. At 10:30pm, my good friend Gabe and I are standing in line at a movie theater on the northwest side of Indianapolis. At this stage of my life, there are precious few things for which I will willingly wait in line for more than 15 minutes, but this is one of them: the premiere of a new Star Trek film.
We are surrounded by fellow fans. T-shirts emblazoned with the logos of various science fiction and fantasy franchises abound. My own shirt bears a zombie mosaic from The Walking Dead; many others simply display the familiar arrowhead emblem of Starfleet and the single declarative word "TREKKIE."
As we wait, the moviegoers who attended the 8:00pm showing of this "fan sneak" start to exit the theater. Among them is a boy clad in a red Starfleet tunic and cradling a model of the USS Enterprise in his arms. Somewhat impressively, not one member of the outgoing audience utters a single word about the plot of the film. They even seem to hush their conversations between themselves as they pass us, so as to not spoil the experience for fellow fans.)