10:50 AM - The Glamor driver for X11 has sought for years to replace all of the GPU-specific 2D rendering acceleration code in X.org with portable, high performance OpenGL. Unfortunately, that goal was hampered by the project starting in the awkward time when folks thought fixed-function hardware was still worth supporting. But, according to Keith Packard, the last few months have seen the code modernized and finally maturing as a credible replacement for many of the hardware-specific 2D acceleration backends. From his weblog: "Fast forward to the last six months. Eric has spent a bunch of time cleaning up Glamor internals, and in fact he’s had it merged into the core X server for version 1.16 which will be coming up this July. Within the Glamor code base, he's been cleaning some internal structures up and making life more tolerable for Glamor developers. ... A big part of the cleanup was a transition all of the extension function calls to use his other new project, libepoxy, which provides a sane, consistent and performant API to OpenGL extensions for Linux, Mac OS and Windows." Keith Packard dove in and replaced the Glamor acceleration for core text and points (points in X11 are particularly difficult to accelerate quickly) in just a few days. Text performance is now significantly faster than the software version (not that anyone is using core text any more, but "they’re often one of the hardest things to do efficiently with a heavy weight GPU interface, and OpenGL can be amazingly heavy weight if you let it."). For points, he moved vertex transformation to the GPU getting it up to the same speed as the software implementation. Looking forward, he wrote "Having managed to accelerate 17 of the 392 operations in x11perf, it’s pretty clear that I could spend a bunch of time just stepping through each of the remaining ones and working on them. Before doing that, we want to try and work out some general principles about how to handle core X fill styles. Moving all of the stipple and tile computation to the GPU will help reduce the amount of code necessary to fill rectangles and spans, along with improving performance, assuming the above exercise generalizes to other primitives." Code is available in anholt's and keithp's xserver branches.
10:06 AM - Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Amanda Solliday reports at Symmetry that six months ago, organizers of a biweekly forum on Large Hadron Collider physics at Fermilab banned PowerPoint presentations in favor of old-fashioned, chalkboard-style talks. 'Without slides, the participants go further off-script, with more interaction and curiosity,' says Andrew Askew. 'We wanted to draw out the importance of the audience.' In one recent meeting, physics professor John Paul Chou of Rutgers University presented to a full room holding a single page of handwritten notes and a marker. The talk became more dialogue than monologue as members of the audience, freed from their usual need to follow a series of information-stuffed slides flying by at top speed, managed to interrupt with questions and comments. Elliot Hughes, a Rutgers University doctoral student and a participant in the forum, says the ban on slides has encouraged the physicists to connect with their audience. 'Frequently, in physics, presenters design slides for people who didn't even listen to the talk in the first place,' says Hughes. 'In my experience, the best talks could not possibly be fully understood without the speaker.'"
9:25 AM - Taco Cowboy writes "Istanbul (dpa) — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is considering banning YouTube and Facebook after local elections at the end of this month, according to remarks carried by local media Friday. It may, or may not be related to the criticisms arising from (not-yet verified) leaked recordings of Mr. Erdogan's involvement with corruption. 'We will not let YouTube and Facebook destroy our nation. We will take measures, including closure,' said Erdogan, who has previously made comments against social media sites. YouTube had been banned in the country for two years and was recently unblocked."
8:43 AM - astroengine writes "Out of the thousands of craters scarring the face of Mars, one has emerged as the likely source of most of the Martian meteorites that have been recovered on Earth, a new study shows. Researchers pinpoint Mojave Crater, a 34 mile (55 kilometer) wide basin on the planet's equator, as the origin of the so-called 'shergottites' meteorites, a family that includes about 75 percent of the roughly 150 known Martian meteorites. The crater is located slightly north and east of Meridian Planum, where NASA's Mars rover Opportunity landed in January 2004."
8:02 AM - Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Bloomberg reports that the oil industry is pressuring President Barack Obama to end the 41-year-old ban on most crude exports but British Petroleum (BP) isn't waiting for a decision. The British oil giant has signed on to take at least 80 percent of the capacity of a new $360 million mini-refinery in Houston that will process crude just enough to escape restrictions on sales outside the country. 'It's a relatively inexpensive way around the export prohibition,' says Judith Dwarkin 'You can lightly ruffle the hydrocarbons and they are considered processed and then they aren't subject to the ban.' Amid a flood of new US oil, the demand for simple, one-step plants capable of transforming raw crude into exportable products such as propane is feeding a construction boom along the Gulf Coast. The first such mini-refinery, built for 1/10 the cost of a complex, full-scale refinery, is scheduled to open the first phase of its 100,000 barrel-a-day crude processing plant in July, The mini-refineries take advantage of the law that allows products refined from oil to be sold overseas, though not the raw crude itself. 'The international buyers of these products will likely need to refine them further, so this is basically a veiled form of condensate exports,' says Leo Mariani."
5:26 AM - schwit1 writes "In a David vs. Goliath battle that pitted the Federal Aviation Administration against the operator of a small model airplane, a federal administrative judge has sided with the aircraft's pilot. The judge has dismissed a proposed $10,000 fine against businessman Raphael Pirker, who used a remotely operated 56-inch foam glider to take aerial video for an advertisement for the University of Virginia Medical Center"
3:08 AM - Jim_Austin writes "Academic science labs are generally far less safe than labs in industry; one estimate says that people working in academic labs are 11x more likely to be hurt than their industrial counterparts. A group of grad students and postdocs in Minnesota decided to address the issue had-on. With encouragement and funding from DOW, and some leadership from their department chairs, they're in the process of totally remaking their departments' safety cultures."
12:31 AM - Nerval's Lobster writes "Newsweek's Leah McGrath Goodman spent months tracking down the mysterious founder of Bitcoin, "Satoshi Nakamoto," a name that everybody seemed to believe was a pseudonym for either a single individual or a shadowy collective of programmers. If Satoshi Nakamoto, former government contractor and model-train enthusiast, is actually "Satoshi Nakamoto," Bitcoin founder, then he's sitting atop hundreds of millions of dollars in crypto-currency. Does the article's exhaustive listing of Nakamoto's personal details place his security at risk? Many in the Bitcoin community think so, and poured onto the Web to express that opinion. The Newsweek article has raised some interesting questions about the need for thorough journalism versus peoples' right to privacy. For example, should Goodman have posted an image of Nakamoto's house and car, even though information about both would probably be relatively simple to find online, anyway?"
10:08 PM - alphadogg writes "Having lots of Wi-Fi networks packed into a condominium or apartment building can hurt everyone's wireless performance, but Stanford University researchers say they've found a way to turn crowding into an advantage. In a dorm on the Stanford campus, they're building a single, dense Wi-Fi infrastructure that each resident can use and manage like their own private network. That means the shared system, called BeHop, can be centrally managed for maximum performance and efficiency while users still assign their own SSIDs, passwords and other settings. The Stanford project is making this happen with inexpensive, consumer-grade access points and SDN (software-defined networking)."
8:02 PM - sciencehabit writes "Scientists have developed an algorithm that converts simple grayscale images into musical soundscapes. Even people blind from birth can use the technology to 'see' their surroundings and navigate around a room. Equally intriguing, the part of the subject's brain responsible for vision was active during these tasks, suggesting our thinking about how the brain works may be wrong. Instead of a 'vision center' of the brain, for example, we may actually have a region that helps us 'see', whether that input comes from sight or sound."