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January 19th, 2019 at 9:33 am

The ‘Right to Repair ‘ movement is aging ground and could hit manufacturers hard

Scrapyard For Obsolete Household Goods

The EU and at least 18 U.S. states are considering proposals that address the impact of planned obsolescence by making household goods sturdier and easier to mend.

European Union member states are this week voting on dishwasher efficiency and repair. If that sounds as dull as, well, dishwater, then you need to consider the last time your own dishwasher broke. With the right rules in place, it would be a cheap and easy fix. However, you’re not allowed to fiddle with the machine because it would invalidate the warranty. So, instead, you go and buy a new model and throw the old one on the dump.

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January 19th, 2019 at 9:23 am

The U.S. just became a net oil exporter for the first time in 75 years

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America turned into a net oil exporter last week, breaking almost 75 years of continued dependence on foreign oil and marking a pivotal — even if likely brief — moment toward what U.S. President Donald Trump has branded as “energy independence.”

The shift to net exports is the dramatic result of an unprecedented boom in American oil production, with thousands of wells pumping from the Permian region of Texas and New Mexico to the Bakken in North Dakota to the Marcellus in Pennsylvania.

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January 18th, 2019 at 1:10 pm

US Secret Service is probing how crooks use smart credit cards for fraud

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Credit card thieves have been using Fuze Cards, according to a Secret Service memo.

Credit card thieves have been taking advantage of smart card technologies to avoid getting caught, according to Krebs on Security. The US Secret Service offices in New York and St. Louis have apparently been working on a criminal investigation involving fraud rings using Fuze Cards to store stolen card data. Fuze Cards allow you to store up to 30 credit card details, and you can switch between them using the small screen on the front. It makes the data of the card you want to use available to merchants via a magnetic stripe and an embedded chip. You can also use them to withdraw money from ATMs.

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January 18th, 2019 at 1:05 pm

Giant leaf for mankind? China germinates first seed on moon

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A photo of the cotton sprout. ‘This is the first time humans have done biological growth experiments on the lunar surface,’ said Xie Gengxin, who led the design of the experiment. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

A small green shoot is growing on the moon after a cotton seed germinated onboard a Chinese lunar lander, scientists said.

The sprout has emerged from a lattice-like structure inside a canister after the Chang’e 4 lander touched down earlier this month, according to a series of photos released by the Advanced Technology Research Institute at Chongqing University.

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January 18th, 2019 at 12:43 pm

This is the industry to enter if you want to basically be guaranteed a job

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“If you are ambitious, if you’re thoughtful, if you understand yourself, and how to grow yourself, and how to learn, you will be wanted and needed, and you will find yourself progressing in the field,” an expert says.

When companies such as Marriott International, Yahoo! and Equifax experience a data breach, the consequences are huge for customers whose personal information has been accessed by criminals or enemy states. And so it’s no surprise that major players in the private and public sector are boning up their cybersecurity to avoid such PR and real-life disasters.

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January 17th, 2019 at 12:53 pm

Microsoft and Kroger to create data-driven connected grocery stores

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Microsoft and Kroger are taking a leaf out of Amazon’s book by building futuristic “connected” grocery stores.

As part of a pilot project, Kroger, the largest supermarket in the U.S. by revenue, and Microsoft have transformed two retail stores, one near each of their respective headquarters — in Monroe, Ohio and Redmond, Washington — using technology powered by connected sensors and Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.

The first fruit of the partnership is a digital shelving system, which was actually announced last year and is in the process of rolling out to dozens of Kroger stores across the U.S. Called EDGE (Enhanced Display for Grocery Environment), it bypasses paper price tags for digital shelf displays that can be changed in real time from anywhere, and it also can display promotions, dietary information, and more.

But the test stores are where Kroger and Microsoft are taking things to the next level. In addition to EDGE shelving, the system will include a new guided shopping experience, personalized ads, and something the partners are calling “pick-to-light.”

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January 17th, 2019 at 12:38 pm

Forget 8K, the Insta360 Titan records 11K that can still play back on smartphones

Insta360, the company behind cameras like the Insta360 One X, is aiming to redefine cinematic 360 with 11K footage captured by larger Micro Four Thirds sensors. On Monday, January 7, Insta360 unveiled the Titan, a cinematic 360 camera that the company says is the first standalone 360 camera to shoot in 11K. The Titan also uses the largest sensors for a standalone 360, Insta360 says, with eight Micro Four Thirds sensors.

The Titan, designed as a high-end cinematic virtual reality camera, captures 11K at 30 fps in the 360 format or 10K at 30 fps in the 3D format necessary for VR. The camera can also drop the resolution for faster frame rates, including 8K at 60 fps and 5.3K at 120 fps. Insta360 says the Micro Four Thirds sensors are essential to capturing a cinematic quality, since many use smaller sensors like the ones inside smartphones and action cameras.

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January 17th, 2019 at 12:27 pm

Tesla CEO Musk breaks ground at Shanghai Gigafactory to launch China push

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SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) broke ground on Monday for its Shanghai Gigafactory where it plans to begin making its Model 3 electric vehicles (EV) by year-end, a first step in localizing production in the world’s largest auto market.

At a ceremony at the site of the plant on the outskirts of Shanghai, Chief Executive Elon Musk joined the city’s mayor and other local government officials to formally begin construction of a factory that Tesla has said will cost around $2 billion.

“We think with the resources here we can build the Shanghai Gigafactory in record time and we’re looking forward to hopefully having some initial production of the Model 3 towards the end of this year and achieving volume production next year,” Musk said at the event.

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January 16th, 2019 at 12:27 pm

Scientists engineer shortcut for photosynthetic glitch, boost crop growth by 40 percent

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Aerial view of the 2017 field trials where scientists studied how well their plants modified to shortcut photorespiration performed beside unmodified plants in real-world conditions. They found that plants engineered with a synthetic shortcut are about 40 percent more productive. Credit: James Baltz/College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

Plants convert sunlight into energy through photosynthesis; however, most crops on the planet are plagued by a photosynthetic glitch, and to deal with it, evolved an energy-expensive process called photorespiration that drastically suppresses their yield potential. Researchers from the University of Illinois and U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service report in the journal Science that crops engineered with a photorespiratory shortcut are 40 percent more productive in real-world agronomic conditions.

“We could feed up to 200 million additional people with the calories lost to photorespiration in the Midwestern U.S. each year,” said principal investigator Donald Ort, the Robert Emerson Professor of Plant Science and Crop Sciences at Illinois’ Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology. “Reclaiming even a portion of these calories across the world would go a long way to meeting the 21st Century’s rapidly expanding food demands—driven by population growth and more affluent high-calorie diets.”

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January 16th, 2019 at 12:16 pm

Flying cars could take off as soon as 2023

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The Bell Nexus hybrid electric air taxi concept is on display at the Bell booth at CES International

From a one-person flying car to a luxurious five seater, companies are racing to launch the first flying car.

LAS VEGAS — While CES attendees are still quite a few years away from being able to hop in a flying car and travel to the annual technology show, several concepts displayed at the 2019 event this week provided a glimpse of what the future could look like.

That starts with hailing an Uber copter — possibly as soon as the mid 2020s. At CES, Textron’s Bell division, a partner in the Uber Elevate flying car initiative, showed off its new air taxi concept called the Nexus.

While it may fly, make no mistake, the Nexus looks more like a car than an airplane. The concept uses six tilted fans to aid in takeoffs and landings, which are powered by a hybrid-electric propulsion system. Inside the vehicle, four passengers and a pilot can see their flight path projected onto a screen.

Uber has said it’s planning to roll out its air vehicles by 2023 in certain cities, targeting the Dallas-Fort Worth area and Los Angeles as its first domestic markets.

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