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News for nerds, stuff that matters
Updated: 17 min 56 sec ago

Oculus Co-Founder's New Venture: Long-Range Virtual Reality Tracking System

Thu, 10/03/2016 - 8:05am
An anonymous reader writes: Jack McCauley was among Oculus' founding members and played a seminal role in the development of the Rift DK1 and DK2 VR headsets as the company's VP of Engineering. After departing from the VR firm sometime around the 2014 acquisition by Facebook, McCauley has continued his interest in VR, most recently demonstrating a laser tracking system that makes use of MEMS technology to actively track targets. He says the system's strengths are long range and low cost compared to camera-based tracking solutions, which Oculus currently uses.

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No More Public Access To Google PageRank Scores

Thu, 10/03/2016 - 5:32am
campuscodi writes: Google has confirmed with Search Engine Land that it is removing PageRank scores from the Google toolbar, which was the last place where someone could check their site's PageRank status. Many SEO experts are extremely happy at this point, since it seems that PageRank is responsible for all the SEO spam we see today.

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How Astronomers Used the First Concorde Prototype To Chase a Total Eclipse

Thu, 10/03/2016 - 3:01am
tedlistens writes: On Wednesday, a solar eclipse gave people across a swath of Indonesia and the South Pacific the chance to see a generous 4 minutes and 9 seconds of totality: the awe-inspiring sight of the moon completely covering the sun, turning day into night and offering a rare glimpse of the corona, the gas swirling in the Sun's outer atmosphere. But in 1972, a small group of astronomers from around the globe sought a way for seeing a longer eclipse than ever before: a prototype Concorde, capable of chasing the eclipse for a whopping 74 minutes across the Sahara Desert, at twice the speed of sound.

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Google Joins Facebook's Open Compute Project

Thu, 10/03/2016 - 1:37am
judgecorp writes: Google has elected to open up some of its data center designs, which it has -- until now -- kept to itself. Google has joined the Open Compute Project, which was set up by Facebook to share low-cost, no-frills data center hardware specifications. Google will donate a specification for a rack that it designed for its own data centers. Google's first contribution will be "a new rack specification that includes 48V power distribution and a new form factor to allow OCP racks to fit into our data centers," the company said. "We kicked off the development of 48V rack power distribution in 2010, as we found it was at least 30 percent more energy-efficient and more cost-effective in supporting these higher-performance systems." The company said it hopes to help others "adopt this next generation power architecture, and realize the same power efficiency and cost benefits as Google." Google hasn't submitted a proposed specification to the OCP yet, but the company is working with Facebook to get that done.

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First Bionic Fingertip Implant Delivers Sensational Results

Thu, 10/03/2016 - 12:51am
Zothecula writes: Dennis Aabo Sorensen may be missing a hand, but he nonetheless recently felt rough and smooth textures using a fingertip on that arm. The fingertip was electronic, and was surgically hard-wired to nerves in his upper arm. He is reportedly the first person in the world to recognize texture using a bionic fingertip connected to electrodes that were surgically implanted above his stump. The device was created by scientists from the Ecole polytechnique federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, and Italy's Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna research institute. While it was wired to Sorensen, a machine moved it across rough and smooth plastic surfaces. Sensors in the fingertip generated electrical signals as they deformed in response to the topography of those surfaces, and transmitted those signals to the nerves in a series of electrical spikes -- this was reportedly an imitation of the "language of the nervous system." He was able to differentiate between the two surfaces with an accuracy of 96 percent.

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Microsoft To Court: Make Comcast Give Us Windows-Pirating Subscriber's Info

Thu, 10/03/2016 - 12:04am
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft is using the IP address 'voluntarily' collected during its software activation process to sue a Comcast subscriber for pirating thousands of copies of Windows and Office. The Redmond giant wants the court to issue a subpoena which will force Comcast to hand over the pirating subscriber's info. If the infringing IP address belongs to another ISP which obtained it via Comcast, then Microsoft wants that ISP's info and the right to subpoena it as well. "Defendants activated and attempted to activate at least several thousand copies of Microsoft software, much of which was pirated and unlicensed," Microsoft's legal team wrote. The product keys "known to have been stolen" from Microsoft's supply chain were used to activate Windows 8, Windows 7, Office 2010, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2008. The product keys, Microsoft said, were used "more times than is authorized by the applicable software license," used by "someone other than the authorized licensee," or were "activated outside the region for which they were intended." Whether or not the IP traces back to a Comcast subscriber or was assigned by Comcast to a different ISP, as the The Register pointed out, "It would be a significant gaffe on behalf of the alleged pirates if the IP address data pointed to their real identifies."

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