Vancouver Seaplane Company To Resume Test Flights With Electric Plane
A Vancouver seaplane company says its retro-fitted all electric airplane is
set to take to the skies for more test flights this year, as it pushes forward with its plans to make commercial air travel cheaper and greener. CBC.ca reports:
"There's no wavering in our confidence and determination and interest in getting this done," said Harbour Air CEO Greg McDougall. Founded by McDougall in 1982, Harbour Air uses small propeller planes to fly commercial flights between the Lower Mainland, Seattle, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and Whistler.
In the last few years it has turned its attention to becoming a leader in green urban mobility, which would do away with the need to burn fossil fuels for air travel. In December 2019, McDougall flew one of Harbour Air's planes, a more than 60-year-old DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver float plane, which had been outfitted with a Seattle-based company's electric propulsion system, for three minutes over Richmond B.C.
Harbour Air joined with Seattle-based company MagniX in early 2019 to design the e-plane's engine, which was powered by NASA-approved lithium-ion batteries that were also used on the International Space Station. At the time, based on the success of that inaugural flight, McDougall had hoped to be using the plane to fly passengers on its routes, such as between downtown Vancouver and downtown Victoria, by the end of this year. Now, that timeline has been pushed back at least one year due to the pandemic.
Google Says It May Have Found a Privacy-Friendly Substitute To Cookies
Google says its new machine learning algorithms could replace cookie-based ad targeting
without invading your privacy. Axios reports:
Google has been testing a new API (a software interface) called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) that acts as an effective replacement signal for third-party cookies. The API exists as a browser extension within Google Chrome. The company said Monday that tests of FLoC to reach audiences show that advertisers can expect to see at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent on ads when compared to cookie-based advertising. FLoC uses machine learning algorithms to analyze user data and then create a group of thousands of people based off of the sites that an individual visits. The data gathered locally from the browser is never shared. Instead, the data from the much wider cohort of thousands of people is shared, and that is then used to target ads.
It's a big deal that Google says it's close to coming up with a technology that will replace cookies, because one of the toughest parts of phasing cookies out of internet ad-targeting is that there hasn't been a great solution for what to replace them with. [...] Google has other proposals to replace cookies in the works, so it's not guaranteed that FLoC will be the answer, but the company said it's highly encouraged by what it has seen so far.
Hacker Leaks Data of 2.28 Million Dating Site Users
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet:
A well-known hacker has leaked the details of more than 2.28 million users registered on MeetMindful.com, a dating website founded in 2014, ZDNet has learned this week from a security researcher. The dating site's data has been shared as a free download on a publicly accessible hacking forum known for its trade in hacked databases. The leaked data, a 1.2 GB file, appears to be a dump of the site's users database.
The content of this file includes a wealth of information that users provided when they set up profiles on the MeetMindful site and mobile apps. Some of the most sensitive data points included in the file include: Real names; Email addresses; City, state, and ZIP details; Body details; Dating preferences; Marital status; Birth dates; Latitude and longitude; IP addresses; Bcrypt-hashed account passwords; Facebook user IDs; and Facebook authentication tokens. Messages exchanged by users were not included in the leaked file; however, this does not make the entire incident less sensitive. The data leak, which is still available for download, was released by a threat actor who goes by the name of ShinyHunters. They also were responsible for
leaking the details of millions of users registered on Teespring.
Browser Makers Launch New Project For Writing Documentation For Web APIs
A coalition of tech companies announced today
The new project does not view itself as a replacement for MDN Web Docs, a website hosted by Mozilla, where all browser makers agreed to move the official Web API documentation back in October 2017, and stop developing their own, often diverging, documentation sites. Instead, in a press release and FAQ today, the Open Web Docs team said their role is to fund, coordinate, and contribute to MDN Docs going forward. The new initiative comes after Mozilla laid off 250 employees last summer, including many of its MDN Web Docs staff. Open Web Docs comes to fill this void and provide the labor force needed to continue updating the MDN Web Docs portal.
Apple Watch Series 7 Rumored To Feature Blood Glucose Monitoring
According to Korea's
ETNews, Apple is expected to
feature blood glucose monitoring via an optical sensor in the Apple Watch Series 7. MacRumors reports:
The report, which mainly focuses on the blood glucose capabilities of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, explains that Apple is intending to bring blood glucose monitoring to the upcoming Apple Watch Series 7 using a non-invasive optical sensor. Measuring blood glucose levels, also known as blood sugar levels, is vital to managing conditions such as diabetes. Normally, measuring blood glucose requires testing a drop of blood in a blood sugar meter or using an implanted continuous glucose monitor (CGM). The ability to observe any major increases or decreases in blood glucose may raise awareness of a potential health condition or simply help to improve a user's diet.
Apple is said to have secured patents around blood glucose monitoring, and the company is now purportedly "focusing on securing reliability and stability prior to commercialization of the technology." The Apple-designed optical sensor is believed to be a skin-top continuous monitoring solution that does not require an implant. [...] The Apple Watch Series 7 is expected to arrive later this year, but there have been few rumors around what the new models may feature. While there have been reports of microLED displays and solid-state buttons with haptic feedback for the Apple Watch, these are not directly expected for the Apple Watch Series 7.
Pyston 2.1 Is Blowing Past Python 3 Performance
Camel Pilot writes:
Pyston 2.1, a closed-source but faster and highly-compatible implementation of the Python programming language, significantly outperforms Python 3 in a variety of benchmarks. All the system details and benchmarks in full can be found
over on OpenBenchmarking.org.
Renewable Energy Production Beat Fossil Fuels in Europe
Renewable energy became the biggest source of electricity in the European Union in 2020,
beating fossil fuels for the first time. Germany and Spain also hit that milestone individually last year -- so did the UK, which officially left the EU in January 2020. From a report:
Renewables powered 38 percent of electricity in the EU last year, according to a report released today by energy think tanks Ember and Agora Energiewende. That gives renewable energy a narrow lead over fossil fuel-fired generation, which accounted for 37 percent of Europe's electricity. The remaining quarter comes from nuclear energy.
The rise of renewables is good news for the health of the planet. Still, renewable energy will need to grow at an even faster rate to stave off a future with more climate change-induced disasters. "Renewables overtaking fossils is an important milestone in Europe's clean energy transition. However, let's not be complacent," Patrick Graichen, director of Agora Energiewende, said in a statement. "Post-pandemic recovery [programs] need to go hand-in-hand with accelerated climate action."
AMC Raises $917 Million To Weather 'Dark Coronavirus-Impacted Winter'
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Variety:
AMC Theatres, the world's largest cinema chain, has raised $917 million in new equity and debt capital, the company said on Monday. "This increased liquidity should allow the company to make it through this dark coronavirus-impacted winter," the company said, adding that its "financial runway has been extended deep into 2021." AMC has raised the finances from Dec. 14, 2020. Of the $917 million, AMC has raised $506 million of equity, from the issuance of 164.7 million new common shares, along with the previously announced securing of $100 million of additional first-lien debt and the concurrent issuance of 22 million new common shares to convert $100 million of second-lien debt into equity.
In addition, the company has executed commitment letters for $411 million of incremental debt capital in place through mid-2023, unless repaid before then, through the upsizing and refinancing of its European revolving credit facility. The chain says that it presumes that it will continue to make progress in its ongoing dialogue with theater landlords about the amounts and timing of owed theater lease payments, and is hopeful that the ongoing vaccination push will result in an increase in cinema attendance. As a result, AMC shares
soared 36% in premarket trade Monday.
Myopia Correcting 'Smart Glasses' From Japan To Be Sold in Asia
Can a pair of unique spectacles banish nearsightedness without surgical intervention? Japan's Kubota Pharmaceutical Holdings says
its wearable device can do just that, and it plans to start releasing the product in Asia, where many people grapple with myopia. From a report:
The device, which the company calls Kubota Glasses or smart glasses, is still being tested. It projects an image from the lens of the unit onto the wearer's retina to correct the refractive error that causes nearsightedness. Wearing the device 60 to 90 minutes a day corrects myopia according to the Japanese company.
Kubota Pharmaceutical has not disclosed additional details on how the device works. Through further clinical trials, it is trying to determine how long the effect lasts after the user wears the device, and how many days in total the user must wear the device to achieve a permanent correction for nearsightedness. Myopia is often results from the cornea and the retina in the eye being too far apart. This inhibits the proper focusing of light as it enters the eye and causes distant objects to look blurry. Asian are prone to nearsightedness. Of people aged 20 and under, 96% of South Koreans, 95% of Japanese, 87% of Hong Kongers, 85% of Taiwanese and 82% of Singaporeans are affected by the condition, according to Kubota.
Twitter Launches 'Birdwatch,' a Forum To Combat Misinformation
Twitter unveiled a feature Monday meant to bolster its efforts to combat misinformation and disinformation by tapping users in a fashion similar to Wikipedia
to flag potentially misleading tweets. From a report:
The new system allows users to discuss and provide context to tweets they believe are misleading or false. The project, titled Birdwatch, is a standalone section of Twitter that will at first only be available to a small set of users, largely on a first-come, first-served basis. Priority will not be provided to high-profile people or traditional fact-checkers, but users will have to use an account tied to a real phone number and email address.
"Birdwatch allows people to identify information in Tweets they believe is misleading or false, and write notes that provide informative context," Twitter Vice President of Product Keith Coleman wrote in a press release. "We believe this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable." While Birdwatch will initially be cordoned off to a separate section of Twitter, the company said "eventually we aim to make notes visible directly on Tweets for the global Twitter audience, when there is consensus from a broad and diverse set of contributors."
GameStop Stock Jumps To New Record
surged to a record Monday, before pulling back and giving up much of their gains, the latest sign that frenetic trading by individual investors is leading to outsize stock-market moves. From a report:
Class A shares of the Texas-based games retailer surged as much as 145% to $159.18 in morning trading, before reversing course and briefly turning lower. By midday, the stock was up 27% at $82.55, up more than 330% in 2021. The rapid swings prompted the New York Stock Exchange to briefly halt trading multiple times. The rally has been fueled by individual investors, encouraging each other on social media to pile into GameStop shares and options. The buying pressure has led money managers to switch out of substantial bets that the stock would fall, analysts said. This resulted in a short squeeze, in which rising prices prompt investors to buy back shares they had sold short to cut their losses, pushing the stock higher still.
The company has become a high-profile battleground between bullish chatroom-driven day traders, especially on online platform Reddit, and hedge fund short sellers, who have been betting against the stock. GameStop has been the most-actively traded stock by customers of Fidelity Investments in recent sessions, with buy orders outnumbering sell orders by more than four-to-one, according to the brokerage. "We broke it. We broke GME at open," one Reddit user wrote Monday after the NYSE halted trading, referring to GameStop's stock-market ticker. The tussle over the company, with a modest market value of about $5 billion at Friday's close and four years of declining sales, exemplifies the increased sway of retail investors. Many poured into the market during the coronavirus lockdown, congregating on online platforms to swap trading ideas and to boast about winning bets.
From last week:
Gaming the System: How GameStop Stock Surged 1,500% In Nine Months.
Dutch COVID-19 Patient Data Sold on the Criminal Underground
Dutch police arrested two individuals late last week for allegedly
selling data from the Dutch health ministry's COVID-19 systems on the criminal underground. From a report:
The arrests came after an investigation by RTL Nieuws reporter Daniel Verlaan who discovered ads for Dutch citizen data online, advertised on instant messaging apps like Telegram, Snapchat, and Wickr. The ads consisted of photos of computer screens listing data of one or more Dutch citizens. The reporter said he tracked down the screengrabs to two IT systems used by the Dutch Municipal Health Service (GGD) -- namely CoronIT, which contains details about Dutch citizens who took a COVID-19 test, and HPzone Light, one of the DDG's contact-tracing systems. Verlaan said the data had been sold online for months for prices ranging from $36 to $60 per person. Buyers would receive details such as home addresses, emails, telephone numbers, dates of birth, and a person's BSN identifier (Dutch social security number).
Google Workers To Form Global Union Alliance
Google employees from across the globe are
forming a union alliance, weeks after more than 200 workers at the search engine giant and other units of parent company Alphabet formed a labor union for U.S. and Canadian offices. From a report:
Alpha Global was formed in coordination with UNI Global Union, a union federation that represents about 20 million workers globally, and includes unions from countries such as the United States, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, and the UK, UNI Global Union said.
Apple Hit With Another European Class Action Over Throttled iPhones
A third class action lawsuit has been filed in Europe against Apple seeking compensation -- for what Italy's Altroconsumo consumer protection agency dubs
"planned obsolescence" of a number of iPhone 6 models. From a report:
The action relates to performance throttling Apple applied several years ago to affected iPhones when the health of the device's battery had deteriorated -- doing so without clearly informing users. It later apologized. The class action suit in Italy is seeking $72.8 million in compensation -- based on at least $72.8 in average compensation per iPhone owner. Affected devices named in the suit are the iPhone 6, 6S, 6 Plus and 6S Plus, per a press release put out by the umbrella consumer organization, Euroconsumers, which counts Altroconsumo a a member. The suit is the third to be filed in the region over the issue -- following suits filed in Belgium and Spain last month. A fourth -- in Portugal -- is slated to be filed shortly.
More Than 260 Airports At Risk of Getting Submerged Due To Sea Level Rise, Coastal Flooding: Study
Flights at hundreds of airports worldwide are in danger of being
disrupted by rising sea levels, according to a new study. From a report:
More than 260 airports around the globe are currently at risk of coastal flooding, and dozens could be below mean sea level by the turn of the century, the research published in the journal Climate Risk Management found. Hundreds more could be in danger depending on the amount of sea level rise driven by global warming between now and 2100. Airports in Asia and the Pacific topped the list. Researchers looked at several different factors to come up with the rankings, including the likelihood of flooding from extreme sea levels, flood protection and the impact on flights. They found that up to one-fifth of air travel routes could be affected.