Tag Archives | Computers

Flexible Screen Nears Commercial Release

Photo: RDECOM (CC)

Plastic screens that can be rolled up like a newspaper and not crack may be sold in stores soon, introducing new possibilities for laptops and smartphones. William D’Urso reports in the Arizona Republic:

A plastic screen that rolls up and doesn’t crack when you drop it may sound like science fiction, but the Flexible Display Center at Arizona State University is investing millions to liberate electronic devices from the constraints of rigid glass.

And reality could come sooner than you think. The project was initiated by the U.S. Army in cooperation with a number of companies, including Boeing and Hewlett-Packard, to expedite the development of the technology.

“Flexible … black-and-white screens for e-readers are very close to commercialization,” said Nick Colaneri, Flexible Display Center director. Black-and-white screens are less complicated to create, and he estimates flexible screens capable of rolling up and displaying color images are three to five years away.

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The Commodore 64 Is Back!

C64KeysSmallBorder2bRipping a move from the playbook of German auto manufacturers Volkswagen (the Beetle) and BMW (the Mini), the new owner of early home computer staple the Commodore 64 is revamping the brand but keeping the looks of the original. Nick Bilton reports for the New York Times:

The new Commodore 64, which will begin shipping at the end of the month, has been souped-up for the modern age. It comes with 1.8 gigahertz dual processors, an optional Blu-ray player and built-in ethernet and HDMI ports. The new Commodore is priced between $250 to $900.

The company’s Web site says that the new Commodore 64 is “a modern functional PC,” and that although the guts of the device have greatly improved, the exterior is “as close to the original in design as humanly possible.” Most people would not be able to visibly tell the old or new versions apart, it says.

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A Military Supercomputer Made From 1,700 PlayStation 3 Gaming Consoles

PS3Dave Tobin writes in the Syracuse Post-Standard:

Rome, NY — Computer scientists just up the Thruway at Rome’s Air Force Research Lab have assembled one of the world’s largest, fastest and cheapest supercomputers — and it’s made from PlayStation 3s.

By linking together 1,716 PlayStation 3s, they’ve created a supercomputer that’s very good at processing, manipulating and interpreting vast amounts of imagery. This will provide analysts with new levels of detail from the pictures gathered on long surveillance flights by spy planes.

The PlayStation 3 is a video gaming console that originally sold for about $500. It was developed by Sony, released in 2006 and is known for its sizzlingly clear video graphics.

The Air Force calls the souped-up PlayStations the Condor Supercomputer and says it is among the 40 fastest computers in the world. The Condor went online late last year, and it will likely change the way the Air Force and the Air National Guard watch things on the ground.

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Can You Improve Your Mental Health From Your Computer?

HAL 9000Via the The Economist:
The treatment, in the early 1880s, of an Austrian hysteric called Anna O is generally regarded as the beginning of talking-it-through as a form of therapy. But psychoanalysis, as this version of talk therapy became known, is an expensive procedure. Anna’s doctor, Josef Breuer, is estimated to have spent over 1,000 hours with her. Since then, things have improved. A typical course of a modern talk therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, consists of 12-16 hour-long sessions and is a reasonably efficient way of treating conditions like depression and anxiety (hysteria is no longer a recognised diagnosis). Medication, too, can bring rapid change. Nevertheless, treating disorders of the psyche is still a hit-and-miss affair, and not everyone wishes to bare his soul or take mind-altering drugs to deal with his problems. A new kind of treatment may, though, mean he does not have to.
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Half Of All Tablet Users Transmit Sensitive Data

Evan-Amos (CC)

Evan-Amos (CC)

48% of tablet owners have used their tablet device to transmit sensitive data, according to a new online survey by Harris Interactive.

This compares to just 30% of smartphone users, though it’s younger adults (aged 18-34) who are more likely to than adults.

52% of tablet owners between the ages of 18 and 34 say they’re confident about transmitting sensitive data over their tablet device, versus just 41% between the ages of 35 and 34, and 28% between the ages of 45 and 54. (While just 33% of people over the age of 55 shared the same confidence.)

“There may be an psychological explanation for the main tablet vs smartphone security point,” notes one technology site. “Somebody using a tablet – even though its on a wireless connection – may think of it in the same way as a computer, where it’s well established people are usually happy to transmit sensitive data…With a smartphone, there’s still more of a psychological reminder that any information you send is literally beamed through the air.”

There’s also some other caveats.… Read the rest

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Scientists Develop Better Methods To Match Police Sketches To Mug Shots

Sketch To Mug ShotReports Michigan State University:
EAST LANSING, Mich. — The long-time practice of using police facial sketches to nab criminals has been, at best, an inexact art. But the process may soon be a little more exact thanks to the work of some Michigan State University researchers. A team led by MSU University Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Anil Jain and doctoral student Brendan Klare has developed a set of algorithms and created software that will automatically match hand-drawn facial sketches to mug shots that are stored in law enforcement databases. Once in use, Klare said, the implications are huge. “We’re dealing with the worst of the worst here,” he said. “Police sketch artists aren’t called in because someone stole a pack of gum. A lot of time is spent generating these facial sketches so it only makes sense that they are matched with the available technology to catch these criminals.”
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The Space Jam Website: A Surreal Slice Of Internet History

liveanim8In 1996, Warner Brothers was on the cutting edge by building a "web site" to promote its new blockbuster film Space Jam. Since then, the site has been neither updated nor removed, but remains gloriously preserved, a fascinating museum piece showcasing what the internet looked like in its dark days fifteen years ago. There's GeoCities-style web design, a slightly hallucinogenic swirl of animated graphics, goofy audio clips, garish patterns, screen savers, and difficult-to-navigate frames within frames -- it's amazing to think it was created for a billion-dollar, multinational media conglomerate. Gather any nearby teenagers for a history lesson and explore one of my favorite recent online discoveries, the Space Jam homepage.
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The Race To Built A Computer That Acts Perfectly Human

GoldPrizeAMT Computers may now be able to win on Jeopardy, but they still cannot quite trick us into thinking that they are flesh and blood. Writing for the The Atlantic, Brian Christian discusses taking part in the annual Turing Test, the goal of which is to design a computer that thinks and talks as a human does, and to fool judges into believing that they are chatting with a living person:

Each year for the past two decades, the artificial-intelligence community has convened for the field’s most anticipated and controversial event—a meeting to confer the Loebner Prize on the winner of a competition called the Turing Test. The test is named for the British mathematician Alan Turing, one of the founders of computer science, who in 1950 attempted to answer one of the field’s earliest questions: can machines think? That is, would it ever be possible to construct a computer so sophisticated that it could actually be said to be thinking, to be intelligent, to have a mind?

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How To Get DIY Internet Access When The Government Shuts It Down


In the past few weeks, we’ve seen a number of national governments shut off internet access in attempts to quash dissent. PC World has a guide on how to access the web when the powers that be are blocking it, or post-apocalypse, when telecommunation networks are in shambles. Supposedly antiquated devices such as dial-up modems may someday be direly important amid the smoking ruins of post-America:

These days, no popular movement goes without an Internet presence of some kind, whether it’s organizing on Facebook or spreading the word through Twitter. And as we’ve seen in Egypt, that means that your Internet connection can be the first to go. Whether you’re trying to check in with your family, contact your friends, or simply spread the word, here are a few ways to build some basic network connectivity when you can’t rely on your cellular or landline Internet connections.

Even if you’ve managed to find an Internet connection for yourself, it won’t be that helpful in reaching out to your fellow locals if they can’t get online to find you.

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