Coming Soon: Open-Source Blueprints for a Tiny Nuclear Reactor

Found on Popular Mechanics on Saturday, 07 March 2020
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A mechanical engineer-turned-tech entrepreneur has plans to, well, empower people around the world to build their own 100-megawatt nuclear power reactors.

Smaller reactors like this one have purported benefits in safety and regulatory time, but that’s only true if the rigorous testing required of a nuclear solution ends up in their favor, and that itself will still take time.

Just imagine all the protesters gathering around them.

Simple Systems Have Less Downtime

Found on Greg Kogan on Thursday, 05 March 2020
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As a former naval architect and a current marketing consultant to startups, I found that the same principle that lets a 13-person crew navigate the world’s largest container ship to a port halfway around the world without breaking down also applies to startups working towards aggressive growth goals.

There’s no question things will break along the startup journey, just as surely as they do on a ship crossing the globe. However, if the onboard systems are simple, those issues won’t leave the startup drifting helplessly in the middle of the ocean.


Hackers can trick a Tesla into accelerating by 50 miles per hour

Found on Technology Review on Friday, 21 February 2020
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The researchers stuck a tiny and nearly imperceptible sticker on a speed limit sign. The camera read the sign as 85 instead of 35, and in testing, both the 2016 Tesla Model X and that year’s Model S sped up 50 miles per hour.

Tesla has since moved to proprietary cameras on newer models, and Mobileye EyeQ3 has released several new versions of its cameras that in preliminary testing were not susceptible to this exact attack.

So every time a bug is found, you're supposed to either have parts of your car replaced, or just buy a new one? When such cars get more common, such pranks will increase.

“I was just shaking”—new documents reveal details of fatal Tesla crash

Found on Ars Technica on Saturday, 15 February 2020
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The case attracted wide attention because Banner had engaged Tesla's Autopilot technology. Not only that, the circumstances of Banner's death were almost identical to the first Autopilot-related death in the United States: the death of Josh Brown in 2016. Brown was also killed when Autopilot failed to stop for a semi truck crossing in front of him on a Florida highway.

The momentum of Banner's Model 3 carried the vehicle far down the road—apparently so far that Wood didn't see it when he got out of his truck. Wood says it was only a few minutes later, as he saw the lights of emergency vehicles in the distance, that he realized the awful truth.

Maybe some day it might be possible for a car to drive automatically, without making any mistakes; but it's just not worth it. If you do not want to drive, use public transport.

Tesla remotely disables Autopilot on used Model S after it was sold

Found on The Verge on Saturday, 08 February 2020
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The company now claims that the owner of the car, who purchased it from a third-party dealer — a dealer who bought it at an auction held by Tesla itself — “did not pay” for the features and therefore is not eligible to use them.

Unbeknownst to the dealer, Tesla had independently conducted a software “audit” of the car after selling it, and disabled those features in a December update.

The value of the self-driving features that were supposed to remain active in the Model S comes out to about $8,000. Alec paid for the car under the assumption that the features were bundled into the car’s price. Tesla now says Alec has to pay the company for the features to get them re-enabled.

That sure will help to boost the acceptance of e-mobility. Not.

Smart scale goes dumb as Under Armour pulls the plug on connected tech

Found on Ars Technica on Thursday, 23 January 2020
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In an announcement dated sometime around January 8, Under Armour said that not only has the app been removed from all app stores, but the company is no longer providing customer support or bug fixes for the software, which will completely stop working as of March 31.

The company would instead go back to its roots as a clothing line and focus on actual wearables, such as connected running shoes, along with doubling down on the MyFitnessPal app, which it acquired in 2015.

Current device owners also can't export all their data. While workout data can be exported and transferred to some other tracking app, Record users cannot capture weight or other historical data to carry forward with them.

That's one way to kick your customers in the butt. Pretty sure the majority of them (and many who read about this) will think twice before buying their next stupid/smart products. On the other hand, there's not really that much reason to feel sorry for those who are gullible enough to buy such crap.

Amazon sees Alexa devices more than double in just one year

Found on CNet News on Monday, 06 January 2020
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The e-commerce titan announced Monday that there are now "hundreds of millions of Alexa-enabled devices" in customers' hands worldwide, a massive increase from the 100 million it announced last January.

One issue that may stifle Alexa's popularity is privacy. Amazon and other major voice developers faced mounting criticism last year for failing to let their users know they use human reviewers to listen to a small number of user recordings.

Ring, Amazon's video doorbell company, has also faced criticism for security lapses and its partnerships with local police departments.

Alexa can never be so good that should be considered to buy such a spying device.

We calculated emissions due to electricity loss on the power grid

Found on Ars Technica on Friday, 27 December 2019
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We calculated that worldwide, compensatory emissions amount to nearly a billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents a year, in the same range as the annual emissions from heavy trucks or the entire chemical industry.

Surprisingly, very few countries included transmission and distribution losses in their national commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emission as part of the 2015 Paris Agreement. Our analysis found that only 32 countries mention grid efficiency.

So in all fairness, these emissions need to be included when calculating the CO2 footprint of e-mobility.

Spectrum Customers Stuck With Thousands In Home Security Gear They Can't Use

Found on Techdirt on Tuesday, 24 December 2019
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Customers received a good reminder last week of why it's not worth buying home security and automation services and products from their ISP. Charter Spectrum, the nation's second biggest cable provider, has announced it's shuttering its home security services as of February.

The problem: customers spent thousands of dollars on much of this Spectrum-branded gear, and while the hardware they received supports smart home standards like Zigbee, they're built in such a way as to be locked to Charter's (soon to be nonexistent) systems, rendering them useless.

Walled Gardens. Enjoy your small bubble until some company decides to make it pop and leave you alone with all the bits and pieces.

Uh-oh: Advanced driver assistance systems are making us all bad drivers

Found on ZD-Net on Monday, 23 December 2019
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The point of advanced driver assistance systems, of course, is to increase traffic safety and driving comfort. But it's important to remember that this is automation at an intermediate level, not full automation. What that means is there's still a huge safety burden on the driver to maintain control of the vehicle and situational awareness.

The implication is that over time, these safety systems really can erode our attention. And that's dangerous, because it could indicate both that we're becoming less conscientious behind the wheel and that technologies meant to keep us safe will actually have diminishing returns over time.

Drivers are relying more and more on assistance services and that can end in risky situations which the driver normally would not have entered.