Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for August 24th, 2017

A large global agricultural company has joined Bill Gates and Richard Branson to invest in a nascent technology to make meat from self-producing animal cells. “Memphis Meats, which produces beef, chicken and duck directly from animal cells without raising and slaughtering livestock or poultry, raised $17 million from investors including Cargill, Gates and billionaire Richard Branson, according to a statement Tuesday on the San Francisco-based startup’s website, ” reports Bloomberg. From the report: This is the latest move by an agricultural giant to respond to consumers, especially Millennials, who are rapidly leaving their mark on the U.S. food world. That’s happening through surging demand for organic products, increasing focus on food that’s considered sustainable and greater attention on animal treatment. Big poultry and livestock processors have started to take up alternatives to traditional meat. To date, Memphis Meats has raised $22 million, signaling a commitment to the “clean-meat movement, ” the company said. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: reader

Engineers have figured out how to make antennas for wireless communication 100 times smaller than their current size, an advance that could lead to tiny brain implants, micro-medical devices, or phones you can wear on your finger. Science Magazine reports: The new mini-antennas play off the difference between electromagnetic (EM) waves, such as light and radio waves, and acoustic waves, such as sound and inaudible vibrations. EM waves are fluctuations in an electromagnetic field, and they travel at light speed — an astounding 300, 000, 000 meters per second. Acoustic waves are the jiggling of matter, and they travel at the much slower speed of sound — in a solid, typically a few thousand meters per second. So, at any given frequency, an EM wave has a much longer wavelength than an acoustic wave. Antennas receive information by resonating with EM waves, which they convert into electrical voltage. For such resonance to occur, a traditional antenna’s length must roughly match the wavelength of the EM wave it receives, meaning that the antenna must be relatively big. However, like a guitar string, an antenna can also resonate with acoustic waves. The new antennas take advantage of this fact. They will pick up EM waves of a given frequency if its size matches the wavelength of the much shorter acoustic waves of the same frequency. That means that that for any given signal frequency, the antennas can be much smaller. The trick is, of course, to quickly turn the incoming EM waves into acoustic waves. The team created two kinds of acoustic antennas. One has a circular membrane, which works for frequencies in the gigahertz range, including those for WiFi. The other has a rectangular membrane, suitable for megahertz frequencies used for TV and radio. Each is less than a millimeter across, and both can be manufactured together on a single chip. When researchers tested one of the antennas in a specially insulated room, they found that compared to a conventional ring antenna of the same size, it sent and received 2.5 gigahertz signals about 100, 000 times more efficiently, they report in Nature Communications. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: reader

IRS Now Has a Tool To Unmask Bitcoin Tax Evaders

Posted by kenmay on August - 24 - 2017

SonicSpike shares a report from The Daily Beast: You can use bitcoin. But you can’t hide from the taxman. At least, that’s the hope of the Internal Revenue Service, which has purchased specialist software to track those using bitcoin, according to a contract obtained by The Daily Beast. The document highlights how law enforcement isn’t only concerned with criminals accumulating bitcoin from selling drugs or hacking targets, but also those who use the currency to hide wealth or avoid paying taxes. The IRS has claimed that only 802 people declared bitcoin losses or profits in 2015; clearly fewer than the actual number of people trading the cryptocurrency — especially as more investors dip into the world of cryptocurrencies, and the value of bitcoin punches past the $4, 000 mark. Maybe lots of bitcoin traders didn’t realize the government expects to collect tax on their digital earnings, or perhaps some thought they’d be able to get away with stockpiling bitcoin thanks to the perception that the cryptocurrency is largely anonymous. “The purpose of this acquisition is to help us trace the movement of money through the bitcoin economy, ” a section of the contract reads. The Daily Beast obtained the document through the Freedom of Information Act. The contractor in this case is Chainalysis, a startup offering its “Reactor” tool to visualize, track, and analyze bitcoin transactions. Chainalysis’ users include law enforcement agencies, banks, and regulatory entities. The software can follow bitcoin as it moves from one wallet to another, and eventually to an exchange where the bitcoin user will likely cash out into dollars or another currency. This is the point law enforcement could issue a subpoena to the exchange and figure out who is really behind the bitcoin. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: reader

WD’s My Book Duo storage box puts 20TB on your desktop

Posted by kenmay on August - 24 - 2017

Western Digital has unveiled the 20TB My Book Duo, its highest-capacity storage system yet, and it’s a good example of the pluses and minuses of spinning hard disks compared to SSDs . The system works at either RAID 0, which offers the maximum speed but no backup protection, RAID 1, for full data protection but lower speeds and JBOD (just a bunch of disks). At RAID 0 levels, it offers decent 360 MB/s speeds, enough to do video editing and other disk-intensive chores. WD says it uses RAID-optimized WD RED drives, which spin at 5, 400 RPM, though it doesn’t specify how many. The box includes a USB 3.1 Type-C interface port and two USB 3.0 Type-A ports that can be used to connect flash drives and other accessories to your PC. They can also charge up your smartphone, letting the drive do double-duty as a USB hub (it comes with a USB-C to USB-C and USB-A cable in the box). The My Book Duo also supports 256-bit AES hardware encryption. The base 4TB model costs $280/£270, while the top end 20TB configuration will set you back $800/£620. As a point of comparison, Samsung just unveiled its portable T5 SSD that costs $800/£760, but you get one-tenth the storage — 2TB. However, you also get a lot more performance, with 540 MB/s from a single drive and the greater reliability of SSDs. In other words, price is the lone advantage left to mechanical disks and the reason why WD is so anxious to keep its relationship with flash storage manufacturer Toshiba.

Categories: reader

Watch Hulu’s live TV service on your Mac or PC

Posted by kenmay on August - 24 - 2017

It’s been a month since Hulu added its live television service to the Amazon Fire TV and only a day after the company announced Xbox 360 compatibility for its subscribers. Now the company that Disney, Fox, NBC and Time Warner owns is putting its subscription-based live streaming product on PC and Mac. This is the first time Hulu will stream live television to something other than set-top boxes and mobile devices. It makes sense, as Netflix , Amazon and HBO already allow you to watch from the comfort of your web browser. The web-based version will be basic to start while Hulu takes more time to finalize the final interface, according to Hulu’shulu macbook Ben Smith. “This is a very early version of the new Hulu experience on the Web and we expect it to evolve significantly over the next few months, ” writes Smith. “From point, click, and keyboard interactions, to responsive pages to fit all screen sizes; we are carefully considering all of the things that make building a web experience unique from living room and mobile devices.” You’ll be able to watch live television from more than 50 channels from individual networks, all the Hulu on-demand movies and originals, premium channels like HBO, Cinemax and Showtime, and catch the latest live games from ESPN, Fox Sports and CBS. If you live in a “select market, ” you’ll also be able to tune in to local ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC affiliates. Supported browsers include Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer 11. Source: Hulu

Categories: reader

California continues to lead the US in renewable energy

Posted by kenmay on August - 24 - 2017

In 2006, California adopted aggressive legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and boosting renewable energy production throughout the state. And since then, the state has been tracking its progress through its annual California Green Innovation Index report. The ninth report was just released this week and it shows that the state has made some major progress towards its renewable energy goals while hitting a bit of a bump in regards to its emission reductions. Between 2010 and 2015 solar energy generation increased by over 1, 700 percent and renewable electricity accounted for almost 22 percent of all of the state’s electricity generation in 2015. From 2014 to 2015, renewable energy generations increased by over eight percent overall with solar power rising by over 40 percent. But because of the drought, hydroelectric energy generation decreased over six percent. Importantly, the report also shows that with a push towards renewable energy, job and economic growth aren’t hampered. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Since California’s climate law was passed in 2006, the state’s GDP has increased by nearly $5, 000 per person — which is double the increases the US achieved as a whole. Job growth in California was also stronger than the rest of the country by about 27 percent. These achievements were accomplished all while reducing per capita emissions by 12 percent and carbon-intensity by 4.5 percent. However, while the report shows that the state is doing very well in some areas, it also notes that reductions in greenhouse gases have stalled, falling just 0.34 percent between 2014 and 2015. And those numbers have been leveling out for the last few years. The report attributes the lack of progress in this particular area to cheaper gas prices and increased commute times — which rose nearly three percent — as residents are forced to move further away from their jobs due to the rising housing costs in urban areas. “Transportation sector emissions vastly outweigh other carbon-producing areas of California’s economy, and the recent spike should alert policy-makers that despite our best efforts, more must be done, ” Adam Fowler, an economist at the research firm that put the report together, said in a statement . However, while there’s still some work to be done, the progress the state has made shows that its efforts are largely working and should be seen as a standard for other states and the country as a whole. “The data in this year’s Index shows that developing cleaner transportation options presents both a great challenge and a great opportunity for the state moving forward, ” said Noel Perry, the founder of the nonprofit group Next 10, which released the report. “Finding a way to reduce emissions by 5 percent each year in the coming decade will require innovation. Fortunately, that’s something California has proven it knows how to do.” Source: Next10 (1) , (2) , (3)

Categories: reader