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In what can only be described as a happy accident, Google has acquired not one, but two monorail cars for use as meeting rooms. The acquisition came after Paul Cowan, a site reliability engineer for Google submitted a request for a monorail as a joke. The joke stemmed off the fact that Google operated two facilities a distance apart in Pyrmont, Australia.
After hearing that a third office may be opened up, Cowan jokingly submitted a ticket requesting a monorail system connecting all three facilities. At first the company denied the request, but fast forward a few weeks and Cowan got called into a meeting with a member of the facilities team. Cowan was informed that Google wanted to purchase some of the monorail carriages from the defunct Sydney Monorail system and they wanted him to pick out the cars.
Fast forward to today and as you can see in the photo above, Google has taken delivery of two of the monorail cars. Google's plans for the monorail cars is to use them as unorthodox meeting rooms. The cars were lifted into the company offices with the aid of a crane and the removal of a second story window.
Two Los Angeles area schools are telling students to return the iPads they were issued earlier this year due to what the school system is calling "unrestricted use." The recall is due to a "hack" that allows students to visit websites the school deems restricted, and is apparently a violation of the agreement between the students and schools.
The exploit caused school officials to ban the devices from leaving school grounds as they feared that the kids would use the tablets for purposes other than school work while at home. After careful deliberation, school officials at both Westchester and Roosevelt high schools issued a recall on all 2,100 devices.
Personally I see no reason why the students should not be allowed to use the devices for recreational use when off school grounds. If the iPads were truly given to each student as previously reported, then why not let them have a little fun on the devices in their free time? Personally I feel that this is just another instance of schools taking things a little too far.
In case you haven't heard, last night the US Government was forced to shut down all non-essential workers and services due to Congress not coming to an agreement on a new budget that would fund us into the next year. Unfortunately, it appears that many of the .gov websites were deemed non-essential and have been taken offline themselves.
Among the sites shutdown is NASA, which also saw most of its staff put in furlough until a budget has been settled on. Fortunately for the astronauts serving on the International Space Station, Mission Control for the ISS has been deemed a necessity and operations will continue in space and on the ground as normal.
Other agencies like the FTC, USDA, Library of Congress, and even Whitehouse.gov have all be affected by the shutdown. Sites like IRS.Gov, FHA.Gov, and The Department of Veterans Affairs, VA.Gov, appear to remain online at full capacity. While I will not voice my opinion on the matter here, lets all hope that those in Washington can come to some sort of resolution soon so the thousands of workers who are sitting at home without pay can return to their jobs soon.
Some of you may remember the flooding in Thailand back in 2011 that caused the prices of hard drives to skyrocket. A similar situation could arise again, if rainfall continues. A recent report says that flooding is already "encircling" the Thai industrial park, but the Government promises a repeat of 2011 will not happen.
During the flooding in 2011, more than 800 people lost their lives across Thailand, and enough damage was done to the tech industry to cause hard drive prices to skyrocket to levels not seen in years. It took more than a year for tech prices to level off, but more importantly, Thailand has yet to recover fully from the damage. We will be keeping a close eye on flooding reports and our storage gurus Paul Alcorn and Chris Ramseyer will alert us of any breaking news.
Earlier today, vice president of Epic Games, Mark Rein, tweeted something that instantly caught the tech world's attention. In his tweet, he said that earlier this week while at NVIDIA, he saw the most amazing thing and it was not a GPU. This is led to much speculation as Rein is a longtime supporter of Oculus VR's Rift technology.
Could this mean that NVIDIA is working on their own VR technology? This could be the case, but I won't jump the gun too soon as NVIDIA has been working hard at enabling mobile GPUs to play more graphically intensive games. With Project Logan, we're already seeing super high frame rates thanks to tessellation technology that is running on Tegra-based processors. I feel that this is the safer bet, but only time will tell what Rein was talking about.
Following up on yesterday's massive fire at a Hynix Semiconductor facility in China, we've learned this morning that the damage might not be as bad as originally reported. Late last night, I received an official statement from the company that was sent to our friend Jim Handy over at Objective Analysis.
The official report from the company states that the fire started around 16:50 Korean time and was completely extinguished by 18:20. The company says that there were no human casualties, with only one minor injury of an employee. The Hynix official said that while several pictures surfaced on the Internet that showed the fab facility being engulfed in large dark clouds of smoke, the fab itself was not damaged.
The report says that the fire was concentrated in the air purification facilities that are linked to the rooftop of the fab and that this is why the photo showed the building engulfed in smoke. Hynix says that there is no material damage to the fab equipment, the clean room, or any production related equipment. They said they expect to resume operations in a short period of time and that overall production and supply volume would not be materially affected.
The report went on to state that Hynix fully expects that the majority of the damage will be covered through their insurance and that the cause of the fire is not yet known. At the moment, this is all the we know here TweakTown, but we're in contact with Hynix and will update the story as soon as any updates are sent our way.
Earlier today, I reported on a fire that took place at a Hynix DRAM facility in China. As the day has progressed, more information has come in about the fire, but not much else is known about where in the facility the fire actually took place. Some sources are reporting that the fire took place in a chemical storage warehouse, while others are reporting that the actual manufacturing facility where the silicon is fabricated was consumed in the fire.
When news of the fire broke, I reached out to Jim Handy of Objective Analysis and asked for his thoughts on the impact the fire may have on the tech industry as a whole. Handy then issued a statement that says that until the full details of the fire are released, and we know for a fact what role the plant had in the manufacturing process, no speculation can be given on what the full impact may be.
Today, the infamous Kim Dotcom announced that he will be resigning from Mega, the encrypted cloud storage service he created after having his home raided and his brainchild Megaupload seized. The resignation took place on August 29 and Bonnie Lam took the managing director seat on the same day.
Dotcom says that he resigned so that he could concentrate all of his efforts on his pending copyright case as well as the new political party he plans on forming next year. In a Twitter post, Dotcom said, "#Mega is in excellent hands. I resigned as Managing Director to focus on my copyright case & a new political party."
It's been a while since I wrote a piece about Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and I'd started to wonder if everyone had forgotten about him. It appears that Dotcom has been hard at work planning out a new political party that he plans on launching next year in New Zealand.
Dotcom says that the new party will focus on improving the country's IT infrastructure, Internet access, and download allowances. The party is set to launch on January 20, 2014, which is the two-year anniversary of the US government's raid on Dotcom's New Zealand mansion.
Dotcom mentioned in an interview that he is aware that he is unable to run for the office of Prime Minister as he is not a citizen of New Zealand, but he did say that he was in the early stages of meeting with potential candidates for prime minister and other political positions.
Today, Samsung opened up registration for its first major conference, which will be held October 27-29 in San Francisco, California. Samsung DevCon 2013 is aimed at enticing North American developers to focus on creating software for devices made by the Korean electronics powerhouse.
I first covered Samsung's announcement about its Developers Conference 2013 back in July and Samsung has kept pretty quiet about the event until now. Unfortunately, Samsung is still remaining silent on who will speak, what new products it might announce, and what incentives it might offer to developers who attend the event. You can sign up to attend the event at the source listed below, but be prepared to pay $299 for the ticket that will include access to keynotes, sessions, and developer events on the first night of the conference.
Samsung hopes to convince developers that by creating applications for their smart TVs, tablets, smartphones, and other smart devices, they will see a major return on investment. Additionally, Samsung hopes that developers will be convinced to code programs that will run exclusively on its devices over creating apps that will run on all Android devices. I think that's a very hard pill to swallow because even though Samsung has a major portion of the Android market, there are just far too many other Android users out there for developers to overlook.