Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for April 10th, 2017

H-1B visa applications cap out in just five days

Posted by kenmay on April - 10 - 2017

Enlarge / The Chet Holifield Federal Building in Laguna Niguel, California. Tens of thousands of visa applications were delivered to the building last week, which is home to one of several USCIS service centers. Last Monday, the government began accepting applications for H-1B visas that are often granted to foreign tech workers. Trucks full of thick Fedex applications lined up before dawn to get their applications in. By Friday, the door was shut. US Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) said on Friday they have already maxed out , hitting the limit of 65,000 H-1B visas set by Congress and an additional 20,000 visas that are reserved for applicants who have masters degrees. It’s the fifth year in a row that the cap has been met within five days. Some H-1B employers aren’t subject to the visa cap, including universities and some non-profits. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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For all intents and purposes, it looks like AT&T is going to own a majority of 5G wireless connections in the US. The company has announced that it has acquired Straight Path Communications for $1.6 billion. Not familiar with the name? That’s totally understandable. “Straight Path is the largest commercial holder of the 39 GHz spectrum, with about 95 percent of the total licenses commercially available, as well as a significant holder of 28 GHz in major markets, including New York and San Francisco, ” the company’s website reads. “This acquisition will support AT&T’s leadership in 5G, which will accelerate the delivery of new experiences for consumers and businesses like virtual and augmented reality, telemedicine, autonomous cars, smart cities and more, ” according to the statement from AT&T . Specifically, the telco pointed to beaming DirecTV Now to customers over a fixed 5G connection as an example of what’s capable here. Last July, FierceWireless pointed out that while the 37/39 GHz spectrum had bandwidth advantages over the more commonly used 28 GHz range, anyone licensing the former would need “between 44 and 46 percent more spectrum” to offer the same type of coverage the latter provides. With this acquisition that shouldn’t be an issue for AT&T. That’s assuming the purchase is green-lit by the Federal Communications Commission, of course. Given the FCC’s newly frigid stance on net neutrality, the approval likely won’t be much of an issue. So maybe the folks in Austin and Indianapolis will get to give the network a try when the speedy (400Mbps or better) service starts testing there later this year. Source: PR Newswire , Straight Path

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Researchers at Duke University have developed “spray-on” digital memory using only an aerosol jet printer and nanoparticle inks. An anonymous reader quotes Duke Today: The device, which is analogous to a 4-bit flash drive, is the first fully-printed digital memory that would be suitable for practical use in simple electronics such as environmental sensors or RFID tags. And because it is jet-printed at relatively low temperatures, it could be used to build programmable electronic devices on bendable materials like paper, plastic or fabric… The new material, made of silica-coated copper nanowires encased in a polymer matrix, encodes information not in states of charge but instead in states of resistance. By applying a small voltage, it can be switched between a state of high resistance, which stops electric current, and a state of low resistance, which allows current to flow. And, unlike silicon, the nanowires and the polymer can be dissolved in methanol, creating a liquid that can be sprayed through the nozzle of a printer. Amazingly, its write speed is three microseconds, “rivaling the speed of flash drives.” The information can be re-written many times, and the stored data can last for up to 10 years. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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You may see hybrids as dull econo-vehicles , but as Lamborghini and others have shown, electrons can boost a gas car into another dimension . You’d think there would already be economical hybrid cop cars that can go batshit fast when needed, but Ford has become the first with its Police Responder Hybrid Sedan. It gets twice the mileage of the current Interceptor, but “switches to maximum performance — with the engine and battery working at peak acceleration levels — when needed, ” Ford said in a press release . Based on the Ford Fusion Hybrid, it has “full pursuit” capabilities, and runs on the battery only below 60 mph, depending on the charge (Ford didn’t specify the lithium-ion battery’s capacity, but it doesn’t appear to be the plug-in model). That’s backed up by an Atikinson-cycle 2.0-liter engine that puts out 141 horsepower in the stock Fusion configuration. It will go into pursuit mode when the throttle is held down for five seconds, engaging both the gas and electric motors. While not as quick as the 3.7-liter turbocharged Taurus-based Interceptor, Ford figures it’ll be fast enough to earn law enforcement’s “pursuit” rating. With a 38 mpg rating compared to 18 mpg combined for the current car, Ford figures it’ll save around a quarter-gallon of gas per hour, amounting in up to $3, 900 a year in savings. At the same time, it’s “certified by police agencies to be tough enough to handle police pursuits for longer periods at different speeds and over obstacles such as curbs and flooded intersections, ” Ford writes. Law enforcement groups are interested in the Police Responder’s economy, but concerned about its reliability. “Anytime you can save money it is good, ” Michigan-based Police Chief Thomas Korabik told the Associated Press. “I’d want to see the car first and see how it would hold up.” He also wondered whether it’s big enough to handle the computers and other equipment now hosted by most police cars. Via: Autoblog Source: Ford

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Tesla’s home energy efforts might be centered around its solar roofs , but it knows that not everyone can (or wants to) rip up their roof just to bring renewable energy to their home. To that end, the company is offering a first glimpse at Panasonic-made solar panels that would go on top of your existing roof. Unlike many aftermarket options, this would be relatively slick and unintrusive — the panels have “integrated front skirts and no visible mounting hardware.” While it’ll be patently obvious that you have solar energy on your roof, it shouldn’t be the eyesore you sometimes get with conventional designs. The company is taking requests for custom price quotes right now, but it tells Electrek that production for the 325W modules should start sometime in the summer. You’ll have to be patient if you’re determined to escape the conventional power grid. However, this is definitely not a secondary project for Tesla. The firm says that it’ll use these panels for all new residential projects (outside of tiles), so you’re really looking at the future of Tesla’s mainstream energy tech. Via: Electrek Source: Tesla

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