A $225 GPS spoofer can send sat-nav-guided vehicles into oncoming traffic

Found on Ars Technica on Wednesday, 18 July 2018
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A new proof-of-concept attack demonstrates how hackers could inconspicuously steer a targeted automobile to the wrong destination or, worse, endanger passengers by sending them down the wrong way of a one-way road.

The most effective is to give civilian GPS signals the same type of encryption military GPS has used for decades. Unfortunately, that would do nothing to protect people using the massive number of GPS devices already in use. Another countermeasure is to develop trusted ground infrastructure to help GPS devices verify their location. This, too, is at best a long-term solution because of the cost and constraints in government policies.

As usual, nobody will care about security as long as it can be avoided. It will take a few dramatic accidents until the pressure is growing big enough.

Retiring worn-out wind turbines could cost billions that nobody has

Found on Energy Central News on Sunday, 15 July 2018
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The life span of a wind turbine, power companies say, is between 20 and 25 years. But in Europe, with a much longer history of wind power generation, the life of a turbine appears to be somewhat less.

In Texas, there are approximately 12,000 turbines operational in the state. Decommissioning these turbines could cost as much as $2.3 billion.

"The blades are composite, those are not recyclable, those can't be sold," Linowes said. "The landfills are going to be filled with blades in a matter of no time."

It's well known that wind turbines are special waste; but it's still called green energy, because the problem only arises in 1-2 decades.

iPhone crashing bug likely caused by code added to appease Chinese gov’t

Found on Ars Technica on Wednesday, 11 July 2018
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Wardle, who is now a macOS and iOS security expert at Digital Security, said he was perplexed when a friend first reported her fully patched, non-jailbroken device crashed every time she typed Taiwan or received a message with a Taiwanese flag.

He eventually found that the crashes were being caused by code that classified messages based on emojis they contained. He also noticed that the error seemed to be triggered when iOS had country codes that included China or language settings including Chinese (his friend’s phone specified the region as the US and the language as English, followed by Chinese.)

Remember, big corporations will happily bend over for a dictatorship as long as they can make money by selling their products there, while their PR divisions try to uphold the fake image of morals and ethics.

Would you pay $700, plus a monthly fee, for a digital license plate?

Found on Ars technica on Monday, 02 July 2018
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At first glance, this electronic device looks exactly like a traditional, stamped metal license plate. The new digital plate has the same scripted CALIFORNIA icon up top and uses the exact same size and font to show the numbers and letters.

The device also contains an RFID and GPS chip that allow me to see where my car is at any given moment, to voluntarily track my trips (think an Uber or Lyft-style ride map), and to even optionally display DMV-approved customized messages in a small font below the plate number itself.

That's one of the most useless and dumbest "inventions" ever made; but some hipsters will sure buy it and then cry out when they find out that they get tracked. Or when someone just bumps into their oh-so-shiney toy.

San Jose may start cracking down on rampant use of scooters

Found on Mercury News on Sunday, 01 July 2018
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In recent weeks, the city has fielded complaints about people zooming down crowded sidewalks instead of riding in the street and parking scooters in front of driveways or leaving them tipped over outside stores.

To respond to the surge in scooter ridership, San Jose has reached out to a number of different entities for advice, including cities such as Seattle and Washington, D.C., which have also grappled with scooter regulations. The city is also working with the San Jose Police Department on a plan to, among other things, curb riding on sidewalks.

Just put a ticket onto it and have the company renting them deal with it. Quickly they will forward the fines to whoever had it rented at that time. If it's getting out of control, regulate and register when people are too lazy to use some common sense.

Splitting water for fuel while removing CO₂ from the air

Found on Ars Technica on Thursday, 28 June 2018
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In electrolysis, a device powered by electricity is used to split H2O, producing hydrogen gas. Several chemical modifications to this process have been proposed that can also grab CO2 from the atmosphere. Like the idea of using biofuels, this represents a "win-win" by producing an energy resource while capturing CO2, bringing the cost down.

Obviously, this scheme has its drawbacks. Quarrying rock has its own localized environmental impact, as could pumping all that extra bicarbonate into the ocean. But the researches argue that the idea is worth studying much more closely. The more options for removing atmospheric CO2 we work up, the more likely it is that one catches on when serious incentives finally arrive.

It's still a much better approach to reduce the need to energy by making systems more efficient.

Elon Musk tweet-announces a $78,000 performance Model 3 with all-wheel drive

Found on Ars Technica on Sunday, 20 May 2018
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What you get for all that extra cash will be the ability to go 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds, with 155 mph top speed and at range of 310 miles. "Cost of all options, wheels, paint, etc is included (apart from Autopilot)," Musk tweeted.

It's been a rocky year, with Musk admitting early on that his California and Nevada factories were in "production hell" as quarter after quarter slipped by with disappointing Model 3 production numbers. Only recently has the company been able to push out a significant number of cars per week, although investors have remained wary of Musk's often overly-optimistic projections.

That's all cute and sweet, but for mass adoption Tesla needs to focus more on the lower price segment. On the other hand Musk might like to keep it expensive to lower the order numbers since production cannot keep up.

Germany’s Typhoon problem: Only four fighters can be made combat ready

Found on Ars Technica on Tuesday, 15 May 2018
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If you thought the US Department of Defense's procurement adventures with the F-35 and other big-budget weapons systems are bad, you might want to check out what's going on in Europe, where defense procurement battles have left most of the German Luftwaffe grounded for lack of parts.

In fact, only 10 aircraft currently have all their systems functioning, because of a problem that has plagued the defensive aid subsystem (DASS) of Germany's version of the Typhoon.

And as Der Spiegel's Matthias Gebauer was told by a Bundeswehr source, "We can say with a good conscience that large parts of the [German armed forces] are mission ready, because there is currently no mission."

How german politicians still can look others straight into the face is hard to understand when they produced so much excessive failures and caused massive problems.

Apple bets on startup to produce aluminum more cleanly

Found on CNet News on Thursday, 10 May 2018
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This venture is the latest in a broad set of steps Apple has taken to become more environmentally friendly.

"Apple is committed to advancing technologies that are good for the planet and help protect it for generations to come," CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.

Yet at the same time they keep making it extra hard for 3rd parties to repair their gadgets and prefer to just swap it for a new one instead, creating more waste.

Electric Buses Are Hurting the Oil Industry

Found on Bloomberg on Wednesday, 25 April 2018
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China had about 99 percent of the 385,000 electric buses on the roads worldwide in 2017, accounting for 17 percent of the country’s entire fleet. Every five weeks, Chinese cities add 9,500 of the zero-emissions transporters—the equivalent of London’s entire working fleet, according Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

For every 1,000 battery-powered buses on the road, about 500 barrels a day of diesel fuel will be displaced from the market, according to BNEF calculations.

The question is, where does the energy come from? If it is based on burning coal, then the electric buses are pointless. Only if China generates the required energy from renewable sources it's useful. It's a bit surprising though that other engine types, based on e.g. hydrogen, are not mentioned anymore now even though they offer more benefits: no need for large scale battery production (which costs resources too), independant of the current power grid, easier transport, faster to refuel, easier to integrate into current filling stations.