US Report Finds Sky Is the Limit For Geothermal Energy Beneath Us
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica:
Geothermal power sources come in many forms, and they're typically much more subtle than steam shooting out of the ground. In reality, geothermal energy could be a big player in our future mix. That is made clear by the U.S. Department of Energy's recently released "GeoVision" report. The report follows similar evaluations of wind, solar, and hydropower energy and leans on information from national labs and other science agencies. It summarizes what we know about the physical resources in the U.S. and also examines the factors that have been limiting geothermal's deployment. Overall, the report shows that we could do a whole lot more with geothermal energy -- both for generating electricity and for heating and cooling -- than we currently do.
There are opportunities to more than double the amount of electricity generated at conventional types of hydrothermal sites, where wells can easily tap into hot water underground. That's economical on the current grid. But the biggest growth potential, according to the report, is in so-called "enhanced geothermal systems." These involve areas where the temperatures are hot but the bedrock lacks enough fractures and pathways for hot water to circulate freely -- or simply lacks the water entirely. Advancing enhanced geothermal techniques alone could produce 45 gigawatts of electricity by 2050. Add in the more conventional plants, and you're at 60 gigawatts -- 26 times more than current geothermal generation. And in a scenario where natural gas prices go up, making geothermal even more competitive, we could double that to 120 gigawatts. That would be fully 16 percent of the total projected 2050 generation in the U.S. The report also estimates that installations of traditional
ground-source heat pumps, which circulate fluid through loops in the ground to provide cooling in the summer and heating in the winter, could be increased 14 times over, to 28 million homes by 2050, "covering 23 percent of national residential demand." When factoring in the limitations for how quickly the market could realistically change, the number only goes down to 19 million homes -- still a massive increase.
district heating systems, where a single, large geothermal installation pipes heat to all the buildings in an area, could be more widely deployed to more than 17,000 locations, covering heating needs for 45 million homes.
Scientists Train AI To Learn People's Voices, Then Generate Their Faces
JustAnotherOldGuy shares a report from Live Science:
An neural network named "Speech2Face" was trained by scientists on millions of educational videos from the internet that showed over 100,000 different people talking. From this dataset, Speech2Face learned associations between vocal cues and certain physical features in a human face, researchers wrote in a new study. The AI then used an audio clip to model a photorealistic face matching the voice, and the results are surprisingly close to the actual faces of the people whose voices it listened to. The faces generated by Speech2Face didn't precisely match the people behind the voices. But the images did usually capture the correct age ranges, ethnicities and genders of the individuals, according to the study. The findings have been
published in the preprint journal arXiv but have not been peer-reviewed.
Hydrogen Station Explodes, Toyota Halts Sales of Hydrogen Cars In Norway
The Uno-X hydrogen station in Sandvika in Baerum exploded on Monday and resulted in two injuries in a nearby non-fuel cell vehicle. The company operating the station has suspended operation at its other locations following the explosion. With the refueling network crippled, Toyota and Hyundai have announced that they are temporarily halting sales of fuel cell vehicles. Jon Andre Lokke, CEO of Nel Hydrogen, the company operating those hydrogen refueling stations, commented: "It is too early to speculate on the cause and what has gone wrong. Our top priority is the safe operation of the stations we have delivered. As a precaution, we have temporarily put ten other stations in standby mode in anticipation of more information."
Here's what Toyota Norway manager Espen Olsen had to say: "We don't know exactly what happened on the Uno-X drive yet, so we don't want to speculate. But we stop the sale until we have learned what has happened, and for practical reasons, since it is not possible to fill fuel now." He added: "This does not change our view of hydrogen, and it is important for us to point out that hydrogen cars are at least as safe as ordinary cars. The hydrogen tanks themselves are so robust that you can shoot them with a gun without knocking them."
A Deepfake of Mark Zuckerberg Is Testing Facebook's Fake Video Policies
samleecole shares a report from Motherboard:
Two artists and an advertising company created a deepfake of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg saying things he never said, and uploaded it to Instagram. The video [...] shows Mark Zuckerberg sitting at a desk, seemingly giving a sinister speech about Facebook's power. The video is framed with broadcast chyrons that say "We're increasing transparency on ads," to make it look like it's part of a news segment.
The original, real video is from a September 2017 address Zuckerberg gave about Russian election interference on Facebook. The caption of the Instagram post says it's created using CannyAI's video dialogue replacement (VDR) technology. When a doctored video of Nancy Pelosi spread on Facebook, the company said that if someone posted a manipulated video of Zuckerberg like the one of Pelosi, it would stay up. Now that there's a deepfake of Zuckerberg implying he's in total control of billions of people's stolen data and ready to control the future, on Facebook-owned Instagram, that stance will be put to the test.
A Year Later, US Government Websites Are Still Redirecting To Hardcore Porn
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo:
Dozens of U.S. government websites appear to contain a flaw enabling anyone to generate URLs with their domains that redirect users to external sites, a handy tool for criminals hoping to infect users with malware or fool them into surrendering personal information. Gizmodo first reported a year ago that a wide variety of U.S. government sites were misconfigured, allowing porn bots to create links that redirected visitors to sites with colorful names like "HD Dog Sex Girl" and "Two Hot Russians Love Animal Porn." Among those affected was the Justice Department's Amber Alert site, links from which apparently redirected users to erotic material.
Gizmodo first reported a year ago that a wide variety of U.S. government sites were misconfigured, allowing porn bots to create links that redirected visitors to sites with colorful names like "HD Dog Sex Girl" and "Two Hot Russians Love Animal Porn." Among those affected was the Justice Department's Amber Alert site, links from which apparently redirected users to erotic material. The ability to generate malicious links that appear to lead to actual government websites can be a handy pretense for criminals conducting phishing campaigns. What's more, these malicious redirects may be used to send users to websites masquerading as official government services, encouraging them to hand over personal information, such as names, addresses, and Social Security numbers.
Mozilla Debuts Its New Firefox Logos
An anonymous reader writes:
Mozilla today introduced a new Firefox family of logos, a rebranding effort it kicked off more than 18 months ago. For most people, Firefox refers to a browser, but the company now wants the brand to encompass the entire Firefox family of apps and services. "The 'Firefox' you've always known as a browser is stretching to cover a family of products and services united by putting you and your privacy first," Mozilla explained. "Firefox is a browser AND an encrypted service to send huge files. It's an easy way to protect your passwords on every device AND an early warning if your email has been part of a data breach. Safe, private, eye-opening. That's just the beginning of the new Firefox family."
Amazon To Shut Down Its Amazon Restaurants Business
According to GeekWire, Amazon
is shutting down its Amazon Restaurants food delivery service in the U.S. The service, which was first launched in Seattle back in 2015, gave Prime members a way to get meals delivered to their door, using the dedicated website or via the Prime Now shopping app. From the report:
Amazon ended the program in London this past November and will say goodbye to its U.S. service later this month. "As of June 24th, we will discontinue the Amazon Restaurants business in the U.S.," an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement shared with GeekWire. "Many of the small number of employees affected by this decision have already found new roles at Amazon, and others will be provided personalized support to find a new role within, or outside of, the company."
Amazon will also shut down Daily Dish, a workplace lunch delivery service that launched in 2016, on June 14. This move comes less than a month after Amazon led a $575 million funding round for Deliveroo, a U.K.-based food delivery company. It's unclear what, if any, moves are left in Amazon's restaurant delivery arsenal. The company still delivers groceries from Whole Foods via Prime Now in nearly 100 U.S. markets. The competition is fierce in the food delivery market, with companies such as Uber, Grubhub, and DoorDash seeing big growth in recent years. Those three companies combined hold more than 75 percent of the U.S. food delivery market share.
Proposed Law in India Would Imprison Anyone Who Uses Cryptocurrency
Holding, selling or dealing in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin
could soon land people in India in jail for 10 years. From a report:
The "Banning of Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill 2019" draft in the nation has proposed 10-year prison sentence for persons who "mine, generate, hold, sell, transfer, dispose, issue or deal in cryptocurrencies." Besides making it completely illegal, the bill makes holding of cryptos a non-bailable offence, too. Given the high chances of cryptocurrencies being misused for money laundering, various government bodies in the country such as the Income Tax Department and the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) had endorsed banning of cryptocurrencies.
The Biggest Data Breach Archive On the Internet Is For Sale
Troy Hunt, the owner and founder of the well-known and respected data breach notification website "
Have I Been Pwned,"
announced today that
he's actively looking for a buyer.
"To date, every line of code, every configuration and every breached record has been handled by me alone. There is no 'HIBP team,' there's one guy keeping the whole thing afloat," Hunt wrote. "It's time for HIBP to grow up. It's time to go from that one guy doing what he can in his available time to a better-resourced and better-funded structure that's able to do way more than what I ever could on my own." Motherboard reports:
Over the years, Have I Been Pwned has become the repository for data breaches on the internet, a place where users can search for their email address and see whether they have been part of a data breach. It's now also a service where people can sign up to get notified whenever their accounts get breached. It's perhaps the most useful, free, cybersecurity service in the world. Hunt said he's already had informal conversations with some organizations that might be interested in buying the service. Hunt said he's engaged the financial consulting firm KPMG to look for a buyer.
In the post, Hunt shared some staggering numbers that explain just how big Have I Been Pwned has become: 8 billion breached records, nearly 3 million people subscribed to notifications, who have been emailed about a breach 7 million times, 150,000 unique visitors to the site on a normal day, 10 million on an abnormal day. Regardless of who buys the site, Hunt made a series of commitments on the future of Have I Been Pwned: searches should remain free for consumers, the platform should expand and grow, and, finally, he wants to stay involved in some capacity.
Ten US States Sue To Stop Sprint-T-Mobile Deal, Saying Consumers Will Be Hurt
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters:
Ten states led by New York and California filed a lawsuit on Tuesday to stop T-Mobile's $26 billion purchase of Sprint, warning that consumer prices will jump due to reduced competition. The complaint comes as the U.S. Justice Department is close to making a final decision on the merger, which would reduce the number of nationwide wireless carriers to three from four. The all-Democratic attorneys general from the 10 states, including Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Virginia and Wisconsin, say the reduced competition would cost Sprint and T-Mobile subscribers more than $4.5 billion annually, according to the complaint. If the states' lawsuit goes forward, the courts would have the last say, not the Justice Department, Blair Levin, an analyst with New Street Research, said in a note on Tuesday. The next two big steps will be determining the position of Makan Delrahim, head of the Justice Department's antitrust division, and the identity of the judge assigned to the states' lawsuit, Levin wrote.
'RAMBleed' Rowhammer Attack Can Now Steal Data, Not Just Alter It
A team of academics from the US, Austria, and Australia, has published new research today
detailing yet another variation of the Rowhammer attack. From a report:
The novelty in this new Rowhammer variety -- which the research team has named RAMBleed -- is that it can be used to steal information from a targeted device, as opposed to altering existing data or to elevate an attacker's privileges, like all previous Rowhammer attacks, have done in the past. [...] In a research paper [PDF] published today, academics unveiled RAMBleed, the first Rowhammer attack that can actively deduce and steal data from a RAM card. To do this, researchers had to come up and combine different techniques, which, when assembled, would permit a RAMBleed attack to take place.
More than Half of the World's Population is Now Online
Mary Meeker, the general partner at venture capital firm Bond Capital, delivered a
333-page slideshow that looked back at every important internet trend in the last year and
looks forward about what these trends tell us to expect in the year ahead. Some takeaways:
51% of the world -- or 3.8 billion people -- were internet users last year, up from 49% (3.6 billion) in 2017 and only 24% in 2009. Growth slowed to about 6% in 2018.
The percentage of U.S. adults who say they're "almost always online" has grown from 21% three years ago to 26%.
The percentage of U.S. adults trying to limit personal smartphone use has grown from 47% in 2017 to 63% in 2018.
Apple, Google, Facebook, and YouTube have all rolled out tools to help users monitor their usage.
People are more concerned about privacy than a year ago (but these high concerns are moderating).
Encrypted messaging and Web traffic are rising.
And yet, U.S. users still view the internet as a positive for themselves (88%) and society (70%), though both metrics have slightly decreased since 2014.
WordPress.com VIP Platform Outage Reverts Sites To Default Themes
An anonymous reader shares a report:
Web blog hosting platform WordPress.com is currently facing a significant technical issue that has resulted in premium blogs going down or reverting to using default themes. Impacted sites include major news outlets like BBC America, TechCrunch, 9to5Mac, 9to5Google, VentureBeat, DroneDJ, and Electrek; but also many companies that were using the WordPress.com's VIP offering to host corporate blogs, such as Facebook, the Wikimedia Foundation, and others. Automattic, the company behind the WordPress.com service has admitted to the technical issue in a series of tweets and a blog post from its engineering staff.
Boom in Electric Scooters Leads To More Injuries, Fatalities
As stand-up electric scooters have rolled into more than 100 cities worldwide, many of the people riding them
are ending up in the emergency room with serious injuries. Others have been killed. From a report:
There are no comprehensive statistics available but a rough count by The Associated Press of media reports turned up at least 11 electric scooter rider deaths in the U.S. since the beginning of 2018. Nine were on rented scooters and two on ones the victims owned. With summer fast approaching, the numbers will undoubtedly grow as more riders take to the streets. Despite the risks, demand for the two-wheeled scooters continues to soar, popularized by companies like Lime and Bird. In the U.S. alone, riders took 38.5 million trips on rentable scooters in 2018, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials. Riders adore the free-flying feel of the scooters that have a base the size of a skateboard and can rev up to 15 miles per hour. They're also cheap and convenient, costing about $1 to unlock with a smartphone app and about 15 cents per minute to ride. And in many cities, they can be dropped off just about anywhere after a rider reaches their destination. But pedestrians and motorists scorn the scooters as a nuisance at best and a danger at worst.
Facebook's New Study App Pays Adults For Data After Teen Scandal
shut down its Research and Onavo programs after a report
exposed how the company paid teenagers for root access to their phones to gain market data on competitors. Now Facebook is
relaunching its paid market research program, but this time with principles -- namely transparency, fair compensation, and safety. From a report:
The goal? To find out what other competing apps and features Facebook should buy, copy, or ignore. Today Facebook releases its "Study From Facebook" app for Android only. Some adults 18+ in the US and India will be recruited by ads on and off Facebook to willingly sign up to let Facebook collect extra data from them exchange for a monthly payment. They'll be warned that Facebook will gather what apps are on their phone, how much time they spend using those apps, the app activity names of features they use in other apps, plus their country, device, and network type.
Shazam for Android Now Recognizes Music Playing Through Headphones
Shazam, the Apple-owned app that helps users identify songs playing around them, can now
recognize songs you're listening to through your headphones when using an Android phone or tablet. From a report:
Acquired by Apple for $400 million last year, the company introduced a feature called 'Pop-Up Shazam' to its Android app recently, which when enabled, works with any other Android app to track and identify songs playing externally or internally on the phone. It's a feature that many users have requested for years. Prior to this, when a user would chance upon a music track in say a YouTube video, they only had two inconvenient ways to shazam the song. They could either unplug the earphones from the phone and let the audio play through the built-in speakers, or draw an earpiece close to the mic of the phone. The new feature enables Shazam to track the audio signal beaming off of other apps, thereby not completely relying on just output from the surrounding and a phone's speaker. The app is tapping the audio signal by using a persistent notification that floats around and could be dragged -- like the ones from Facebook Messenger -- and can be activated by a single tap.
Opera Launches Opera GX, World's First Gaming Browser
Opera Software, the company behind the Opera browser, today launched a custom version of its browser dedicated to online gamers and streamers on Windows platform. From a report:
Named Opera GX, the browser comes with dedicated features that let users limit the browser's access to computer resources such as CPU (processor) and RAM (memory). The idea is to provide gamers with a way to navigate the web while leaving resources available for games or streaming applications that the gamer might also be running at the same time. "Running a game might require a lot of effort from your machine. Even more so if you are streaming while you play," said Maciej Kocemba, product director of Opera GX. "Before Opera GX, gamers often shut down their browsers to not slow down their gaming experience. We came up with the GX Control feature to make people's games run more smoothly without requiring them to compromise on what they do on the Web." Besides the GX Control Panel that lets users manage CPU and RAM usage limits, Opera GX also comes with Twitch integration, meaning users can log into their Twitch accounts via the browser's sidebar.
Radiohead Release Hours of Hacked MiniDiscs To Benefit Extinction Rebellion
Radiohead have released a vast collection of unreleased tracks made during the sessions for 1997 album OK Computer, after a MiniDisc archive owned by frontman Thom Yorke was
hacked last week by an unnamed person, who reportedly held the recordings to ransom for $150,000. From a report:
The band have now made the 18 MiniDisc recordings, most of them around an hour in length, available on Bandcamp for $23. Proceeds will go to climate activists Extinction Rebellion. The band's guitarist Jonny Greenwood confirmed the hack, and said: âoeInstead of complaining -- much -- or ignoring it, we're releasing all 18 hours on Bandcamp in aid of Extinction Rebellion. Just for the next 18 days. So for $23 you can find out if we should have paid that ransom. Never intended for public consumption (though some clips did reach the cassette in the OK Computer reissue) it's only tangentially interesting. And very, very long. Not a phone download." Thom Yorke wrote of the 1.8 gigabyte collection: "It's not v interesting. There's a lot of it 0... as it's out there it may as well be out there until we all get bored and move on."
Apple's US iPhones Can All Be Made Outside of China If Needed
Apple has a backup plan if the U.S.-China trade war gets out of hand. From a report:
The Cupertino, Calif.-based company's primary manufacturing partner has enough capacity to make all iPhones bound for the U.S. outside of China if necessary, according to a senior executive at Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. The Taiwanese contract manufacturer now makes most of the smartphones in the Chinese mainland. China is a crucial cog in Apple's business, the origin of most of its iPhones and iPads as well as its largest international market. But President Donald Trump has threatened Beijing with new tariffs on about $300 billion worth of Chinese goods, an act that would escalate tensions dramatically while levying a punitive tax on Apple's most profitable product.
Hon Hai, known also as Foxconn, is the American giant's most important manufacturing partner. It will fully support Apple if it needs to adjust its production as the U.S.-Chinese trade spat gets grimmer and more unpredictable, board nominee and semiconductor division chief Young Liu told an investor briefing in Taipei on Tuesday. "Twenty-five percent of our production capacity is outside of China and we can help Apple respond to its needs in the U.S. market," said Liu, adding that investments are now being made in India for Apple. "We have enough capacity to meet Apple's demand."
Canada Plans To Ban 'Harmful' Single-Use Plastics By 2021
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
announced on Monday that Canada
will ban many single-use plastic items by 2021, including bags, straws, cutlery and stirring sticks, to cut harmful waste damaging the country's ecosystems. CNN reports:
Trudeau announced the measures Monday, describing "a problem we simply can't ignore." "Plastic waste ends up in our landfills and incinerators, litters our parks and beaches, and pollutes our rivers, lakes, and oceans, entangling and killing turtles, fish, and marine mammals," the Canadian leader said in a statement. "Less than 10 per cent of plastic used in Canada gets recycled. Without a change in course, Canadians will throw away an estimated $11 billion worth of plastic materials each year by 2030." Trudeau said his government will work with companies that use or create plastic products to set targets on waste.
NASA 'Snoopy' Lunar Module Likely Found 50 Years After Being Jettisoned Into Space
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch:
NASA's trip to the Moon's surface in July 1969 was preceded by a lot of preparatory missions -- including Apollo 10, which involved a mock mission with everything but the actual landing. Astronauts Thomas Stafford and Eugene Cernan flew a lunar module, nicknamed "Snoopy" by the agency, nearly all the way to the Moon during Apollo 10, and then shot the module off into space once they'd completed their task. There was never any intent to return Snoopy to Earth -- it was sent into an orbit around the sun beyond the Moon after the astronauts completed their maneuvers and returned to the command module, and NASA did not track its trajectory. The effort to discover its location began in 2011, undertaken by a group of amateur U.K. astronomers led by Nick Howes -- the same who now claim they're "98 percent convinced" they've discovered where it ended up, according to Sky News. Howes' further speculated that if they confirm its location, someone like Elon Musk could recover it and preserve it as a key cultural artifact.
Raytheon, United Technologies Merger Will Create a New Aerospace Giant
The Raytheon Co. and United Technologies Corp. are merging in an all-stock deal that the two companies say is a merger of equals. The new company's name will be Raytheon Technologies Corp. -- and it's
expected to have nearly $74 billion in annual sales. NPR reports:
The new defense and aerospace company would be second only to Boeing in the U.S., according to the latest Forbes 500 rankings by annual revenue. On that list, Boeing had more than $101 billion in revenue while another rival, Lockheed Martin, racked up $53.7 billion, according to Forbes. "The combination of United Technologies and Raytheon will define the future of aerospace and defense," United Technologies Chairman and CEO Greg Hayes said in a statement about the deal. Hayes is set to become the leader of the new company: He'll take the titles of chairman and CEO two years after the merger is finalized.
Under the deal, United Technologies' shareholders will own about 57% and Raytheon shareholders will own about 43% of the merged company. Both Raytheon's and United Technologies' board of directors have unanimously approved the merger, which is expected to close during the first half of 2020. The headquarters of Raytheon Technologies will be in the Boston metro area, the companies say. Raytheon is currently based in Waltham, Mass., while United Technologies is based in Farmington, Conn. Under the deal, the new Raytheon Technologies will consolidate its operations into four businesses. One will be based on intelligence and aerospace and another based on defense and missile systems. Those entities will join Collins Aerospace (the recently acquired Rockwell Collins Inc.) and jet engine-maker Pratt & Whitney -- two of United Technologies' high-revenue divisions.