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Biotech

CPU's Heat Output to Amplify DNA Could Make Drastically Cheaper Tests 27

Posted by timothy
from the only-waste-heat-is-wasted dept.
MTorrice (2611475) writes "Researchers have harnessed that heat from a computer CPU to run the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify DNA in a blood sample. The team developed software that cycles the temperature of the CPU to drive PCR's three distinct steps.The method allowed them to detect miniscule amounts of DNA from a pathogenic parasite that causes Chagas disease. They hope their technique will lead to low-cost diagnostic tests in developing countries." (Always good to put waste heat to a practical purpose.)
Hardware Hacking

Update: Raspberry Pi-Compatible Development Board Cancelled 165

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-so-fast dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Anyone who might have been interested in the miniature Raspberry Pi compatible board mentioned here a month ago should know the board has been cancelled due to problems sourcing the Broadcom SoC. Given the less than welcoming response from the rpi community to the board's release, there is speculation as to why Hardkernel is having trouble buying the chip.
AT&T

Ask Slashdot: What To Do About Repeated Internet Overbilling? 355

Posted by timothy
from the hey-these-guys-did-it-to-me-too dept.
An anonymous reader writes "AT&T has been overbilling my account based on overcounting DSL internet usage (they charge in 50 gigabyte units after the first 150). I have been using a Buffalo NFinity Airstation as a managed switch to count all traffic. As you may know, this device runs firmware based on dd-wrt and has hidden telnet functionality, so I am able to load a script to count traffic directly onto the device. I have an auto-scraper that collects the data and saves it on my computer's hard disk every two minutes while the computer is running. While it is not running, the 2 minute counters accumulate in RAM on the device. Power problems are not normally an issue here; and even when they are I can tell it has happened. The upshot of all this is I can measure the exact amount of download bandwidth and a guaranteed overestimate of upload bandwidth in bytes reliably. I have tested this by transferring known amounts of data and can account for every byte counted, including ethernet frame headers. AT&T's billing reporting reports usage by day only, lags two days, and uses some time basis other than midnight. It is also reading in my testing a fairly consistent 14% higher whenever the basis doesn't disturb the test by using too much bandwidth too close to midnight.

AT&T has already refused to attempt to fix the billing meter, and asserts they have tested it and found it correct. Yet they refuse to provide a realtime readout of the counter that would make independent testing trivial. I've been through the agencies (CPUC, FCC, and Weights & Measures) and can't find one that is interested, AT&T will not provide any means for reasonable independent testing of the meter. It is my understanding that if there is a meter and its calibration cannot be checked, there is a violation of the law, yet I can't find an agency that can even accept such a claim (I'm not getting "your claim is meritless", but "we don't handle that"). If indeed they are not overbilling, my claim of no way to verify the meter still stands. My options are running thin here. So that my account can be identified by someone who recognizes the case: 7a6c74964fafd56c61e06abf6c820845cbcd4fc0 (bit commitment).
Science

How the Ancient Egyptians (Should Have) Built the Pyramids 202

Posted by samzenpus
from the build-it-better dept.
KentuckyFC writes The Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt is constructed from 2.4 million limestone blocks, most about 2.5 tonnes but some weighing in at up to 80 tonnes, mostly sourced from local limestone quarries. That raises a famous question. How did the ancient Egyptians move these huge blocks into place? There is no shortage of theories but now a team of physicists has come up with another that is remarkably simple--convert the square cross section of the blocks into dodecadrons making them easy to roll. The team has tested the idea on a 30 kg scaled block the shape of a square prism. They modified the square cross-section by strapping three wooden rods to each long face, creating a dodecahedral profile. Finally, they attached a rope to the top of the block and measured the force necessary to set it rolling. The team say a full-sized block could be modified with poles the size of ships masts and that a work crew of around 50 men could move a block with a mass of 2.5 tonnes at the speed of 0.5 metres per second. The result suggests that this kind of block modification is a serious contender for the method the Egyptians actually used to construct the pyramids, say the researchers.
Hardware Hacking

Microsoft Research Brings Kinect-Style Depth Perception to Ordinary Cameras 31

Posted by timothy
from the how-far-away-you-are dept.
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "Microsoft has been working on ways to make any regular 2D camera capture depth, meaning it could do some of the same things a Kinect does. As you can see in the video below the team managed to pull this off and we might see this tech all around in the near future. What's really impressive is that this works with many types of cameras. The research team used a smartphone as well as a regular webcam and both managed to achieve some impressive results, the cameras have to be slightly modified but that's only to permit more IR light to hit the sensor." The video is impressive, but note that so are several of the other projects that Microsoft has created for this year's SIGGRAPH, in particular one that makes first-person sports-cam footage more watchable.
Books

Interviews: Ask Tim O'Reilly About a Life Steeped In Technology 39

Posted by timothy
from the spawning-ideas dept.
Today's interview guest is literally a household name: If you look at the shelves in nearly any programmer's house, developer shop or hackerspace, you'll probably see a stretch of books from O'Reilly Media (or O'Reilly & Associates, depending on how old the books are). Tim O'Reilly started out publishing a few technical manuals in the late '70s, branching from there into well-received technical reference and instructional books, notably ones covering open source languages and operating systems (how many people learned to install and run a new OS from Matt Walsh's Running Linux?), but neither Tim O'Reilly nor the company has gotten stuck in one place for long. As a publisher, he was early to make electronic editions available, in step with the increasing capabilities of electronic readers. Make Magazine (later spun off as part of Maker Media, which also produces Maker Faires around the world) started as an O'Reilly project; the company's conferences like OSCON, Fluent, and this year's Solid are just as much a manifestation of O'Reilly's proclivity for spreading knowledge as the books are, and those are only part of the picture, being joined with seminars, video presentations, and more. Tim O'Reilly is often hailed as a futurist and an activist (he was an early proponent of 3-D printing and hardware hacking, and a loud voice for patent reform) and he's got his eye on trends from global (how the Internet functions) to more personal -- like ways that physical goods can be produced, customized, and networked. So please go ahead and ask O'Reilly about what it's been like to be a publisher of paper books in an ever-more electronic world, as well as a visionary in the world of DIY and fabrication, or anything else on your mind. As usual, ask as many questions as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Transportation

Fooling a Mercedes Into Autonomous Driving With a Soda Can 163

Posted by Soulskill
from the most-dangerous-nap-you'll-ever-take dept.
New submitter Petrut Malaescu writes: Last year Mercedes introduced an intelligent Lane Assist system to its S-class, which is cataloged as a Level 1 "Function-specific Automation" system. In other words, hands and feet must always be on the controls. But a clever driver discovered that all it takes to keep the car in Lane Assist mode is a soda can taped to the steering wheel. It's enough to trigger the steering wheel sensor that's supposed to detect the driver's hands. Obviously, it's not a good idea to try this on a busy highway.
Hardware Hacking

Grad Student Rigs Cheap Alternative To $1,000 Air Purifiers In Smoggy China 182

Posted by timothy
from the filtration-station dept.
An anonymous reader writes "University of Virginia grad student Thomas Talhelm was living in Beijing on a Fulbright Scholarship during the winter of 2012-13, when air pollution was so bad scientists likened it to a nuclear winter. Those who could afford it were resorting to an expensive solution: air filters costing up to $1,000. Talhem built his own on the cheap, getting comparable particulate count results, and has started a company that both markets the product to middle class Chinese and shows others how to DIY."
Hardware Hacking

Raspberry Pi-Compatible Development Board Released 47

Posted by Soulskill
from the chips-and-dips dept.
kodiaktau writes: Hardkernel has released a new Raspberry Pi-compatible development board based on the Samsung Exynos SoC. The board is smaller than a typical Pi, keeping basic HDMI, USB and CSI interfaces. It also has a 26-pin expansion board with more GPIO available, though it lacks an Ethernet jack. Initial prices as estimated around $30. The article makes the interesting point that this and other devices are marketed as "Raspberry Pi-compatible." The Raspberry Pi Foundation may run into name retention issues (similar to the ones Arduino had) as related hardware piggybacks on its success.
Security

Ask Slashdot: Open Hardware/Software-Based Security Token? 113

Posted by timothy
from the you-could-use-postcards-scanned-by-an-arduino dept.
Qbertino (265505) writes I've been musing about a security setup to allow my coworkers/users access to files from the outside. I want security to be a little safer than pure key- or password-based SSH access, and some super-expensive RSA Token setup is out of question. I've been wondering whether there are any feasible and working FOSS and open hardware-based security token generator projects out there. It'd be best with ready-made server-side scripts/daemons. Perhaps something Arduino or Raspberry Pi based? Has anybody tried something like this? What are your experiences? What do you use? How would you attempt an open hardware FOSS solution to this problem?
Classic Games (Games)

Raspberry Pi Gameboy 60

Posted by Soulskill
from the what's-old-is-new dept.
An anonymous reader writes: An enterprising hacker took on a project to rebuild a broken Gameboy using emulation software, a Raspberry Pi, and a few other easily-obtainable parts. The result: success! The hacker has posted a detailed walkthrough explaining all of the challenges and how they were solved. "Using a Dremel, I cut out a most of the battery compartment as well as some posts that on the case for the LCD that would no longer be needed. Doing so, the Pi sits flush with the back of the DMG case. ... The screen was the first challenge. The screen runs off 12V out of the box which wouldn't work with the USB battery pack. The USB battery pack is rated at 5V, 1000mAH so the goal was go modify the screen to allow it to run at 5V. ... I finally got it to work by removing the power converter chip as well as soldering a jumper between the + power in and the resister on the top right."
Hardware Hacking

SRI/Cambridge Opens CHERI Secure Processor Design 59

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the dreaming-of-hurd/coyotos dept.
An anonymous reader writes with some exciting news from the world of processor design: Robert Watson at Cambridge (author of Capsicum) has written a blog post on SRI/Cambridge's recent open sourcing of the hardware and software for the DARPA-sponsored CHERI processor — including laser cutting directions for an FPGA-based tablet! Described in their paper The CHERI Capability Model: Reducing Risk in an age of RISC, CHERI is a 64-bit RISC processor able to boot and run FreeBSD and open-source applications, but has a Clang/LLVM-managed fine-grained, capability-based memory protection model within each UNIX process. Drawing on ideas from Capsicum, they also support fine-grained in-process sandboxing using capabilities. The conference talk was presented on a CHERI tablet running CheriBSD, with a video of the talk by student Jonathan Woodruff (slides).

Although based on the 64-bit MIPS ISA, the authors suggest that it would also be usable with other RISC ISAs such as RISC-V and ARMv8. The paper compares the approach with several other research approaches and Intel's forthcoming Memory Protection eXtensions (MPX) with favorable performance and stronger protection properties.
The processor "source code" (written in Bluespec Verilog) is available under a variant of the Apache license (modified for application to hardware). Update: 07/16 20:53 GMT by U L : If you have any questions about the project, regular Slashdot contributor TheRaven64 is one of the authors of the paper, and is answering questions.
Transportation

Hacking a Tesla Model S Could Net $10,000 Prize 77

Posted by timothy
from the usb-port-under-the-gas-cap dept.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "It seems there's a new hack challenge set every week, but this time, it seems different. A challenge has been thrown down to hack a Tesla Model S with a $10,000 prize. The organizers of a computer security conference have set the challenge and it's open to anyone that registers for the Syscan conference. Taking place in Beijing from July 16-17, the rules for the hack competition haven't been revealed yet but a Model S will be on display for hackers to try their luck on. It's important to note that Tesla itself isn't involved in the competition in any official capacity, nor does it support the competition. If successful, this wouldn't be the first time a Tesla Model S has been hacked. In that instance Tesla was quick to warn people that making changes in the Model S' software would immediately void the car's warranty. Given the car's high-tech nature, it's no shock Tesla's taking security seriously. With $10,000 on the line, it'll be interesting to see if anyone manages to crack the code."
Input Devices

Intelligent Thimble Could Replace the Mouse In 3D Virtual Reality Worlds 65

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the ring-of-wizardy dept.
New submitter anguyen8 (3736553) writes with news of an interesting experimental spatial input device. From the article: "The mouse is a hugely useful device but it is also a two-dimensional one. But what of the three-dimensional world and the long-standing, but growing, promise of virtual reality. What kind of device will take the place of the mouse when we begin to interact in three-dimensions? Anh Nguyen and Amy Banic ... have created an intelligent thimble that can sense its position accurately in three-dimensions and respond to a set of pre-programmed gestures that allow the user to interact with objects in a virtual three-dimensional world. ... The result is the 3DTouch, a thimble-like device that sits on the end of a finger, equipped with a 3D accelerometer, a 3D magnetometer, and 3D gyroscope. That allows the data from each sensor to be compared and combined to produce a far more precise estimate of orientation than a single measurement alone. In addition, the 3DTouch has an optical flow sensor that measures the movement of the device against a two-dimensional surface, exactly like that inside an ordinary mouse." The prototype is wired up to an Arduino Uno, with a program on the host machine polling the device and converting the data into input events. A video of it in action is below the fold, a pre-print of the research paper is on arxiv, and a series of weblog entries explain some of the development.
Hardware Hacking

New Single Board Computer Lets You Swap Out the CPU and Memory 122

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the until-the-pinout-changes dept.
ganjadude (952775) writes "I stumbled upon this little scoop and thought the Slashdot crowd would be interested in. The new kid on the block, known as the HummingBoard can handle faster processors, more RAM and will fit the same cases for the Pi. Also, you can expand the memory and the CPU is replaceable! The low end model starts at $45 and the high end costs $100. So tell me guys, what are you going to do with yours?" $45 model is a single core iMX6 (an ARMv7) with 512M of RAM, the $100 model has a dual core i.MX6 with 1G of RAM. Full specs.
Hardware Hacking

3D Printed PiGRRL - Raspberry Pi Gameboy 49

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the need-bigger-pockets dept.
coop0030 (263345) writes "Celebrate the 25th anniversary of the classic gaming device, Game Boy, by building your own with 3d printing and DIY electronics. This project uses a Raspberry Pi and TFT touch screen to make an epic DIY Game Girl. The 3d printed enclosure houses all of the components and can be printed in your favorite color. It's controlled with SNES gaming controller components, reusing the printed circuit board, buttons and elastomers. The 3D files can be found on Thingiverse, and a video of the finished product is provided as well."
Security

Hacking Internet Connected Light Bulbs 63

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-a-bright-idea dept.
An anonymous reader writes We've been calling it for years — connect everything in your house to the internet, and people will find a way to attack it. This post provides a technical walkthrough of how internet-connected lighting systems are vulnerable to outside attacks. Quoting: "With the Contiki installed Raven network interface we were in a position to monitor and inject network traffic into the LIFX mesh network. The protocol observed appeared to be, in the most part, unencrypted. This allowed us to easily dissect the protocol, craft messages to control the light bulbs and replay arbitrary packet payloads. ... Monitoring packets captured from the mesh network whilst adding new bulbs, we were able to identify the specific packets in which the WiFi network credentials were shared among the bulbs. The on-boarding process consists of the master bulb broadcasting for new bulbs on the network. A new bulb responds to the master and then requests the WiFi details to be transferred. The master bulb then broadcasts the WiFi details, encrypted, across the mesh network. The new bulb is then added to the list of available bulbs in the LIFX smart phone application."
Businesses

2600 Distributor Withholds Money, Magazine's Future In Limbo 59

Posted by timothy
from the wish-I-could-make-this-year's-hope dept.
First time accepted submitter themusicgod1 (241799) writes According to 2600, their distributor (Previously known as "Source Interlink", now recently renamed to "TEN: The Enthusiast Network") has decided to consolidate its resources and is keeping the money retailers paid for the last two issues of the quarterly magazine. 2600, in the meanwhile, is still busy trying to organize the upcoming HOPE X conference. However, according to the link: "In the worst case scenario, being ripped off at this level would make it almost impossible for us to continue publishing. We would have to make a lot of painful choices and cut back on things for no reason other than some outside company's mismanagement. Our readers have supported both our print and digital publications and we've been doing quite well overall." Note: As it says at the linked explanation, 2600 is not a charity, and they're not seeking donations -- but they would like you to buy the magazine (in print or Kindle form), and to attend the upcoming HOPE X conference. (I wish I could make this year's HOPE but can't; as conferences go, HOPE is a wildly good bargain.)
Space

Civilians Try to Lure an Abandoned NASA Spacecraft Back to Earth 53

Posted by timothy
from the tractor-beams-are-the-missing-link dept.
A New York Times piece (as carried by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) outlines a fascinating project operating in unlikely circumstances for a quixotic goal. They want to control, and return to earth, the International Sun-Earth Explorer-3, launched in 1978 but which "appears to be in good working order." Engineer Dennis Wingo, along with like minded folks (of whom he says "We call ourselves techno-archaeologists") has established a business called Skycorp that "has its offices in the McDonald's that used to serve the Navy's Moffett air station, 15 minutes northwest of San Jose, Calif. After the base closed, NASA converted it to a research campus for small technology companies, academia and nonprofits. ... The race to revive the craft, ISEE-3, began in earnest in April. At the end of May, using the Arecibo Observatory radio telescope in Puerto Rico, the team succeeded in talking to the spacecraft, a moment Mr. Wingo described as "way cool." This made Skycorp the first private organization to command a spacecraft outside Earth orbit, he said. The most disheartening part: "No one has the full operating manual anymore, and the fragments are sometimes contradictory." The most exciting? "Despite the obstacles, progress has been steady, and Mr. Wingo said the team should be ready to fire the engines within weeks."

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