Review ~ Eve Energy HomeKit-enabled smart plug

There are many HomeKit-enabled devices now in the geek-o-sphere, and we are finally getting some of the really well-made ones in New Zealand.
Eve Energy is very simple to look at: it’s essentially a little power plug (7.1×7.2cm across) that goes into a power socket, with a female socket, in turn, on the outer face. You plug this into a wall socket or power strip and control it with your iPhone, Apple Watch or Mac (all of any of them). There’s a light that glows when it’s on, plus this light is an on/off button if you hold it in for ten seconds. (Note the Energy is for indoor use only.)
Make sure the device you want to control is plugged into the Eve and turned on so you can then turn it on or off with your device (or Mac). Thanks to the beauty and behind-the-scenes complexity of HomeKit, of course, once you’ve configured your setup on one device, it’s replicated on all thanks to iCloud integration, assuming they’re all signed into the same Apple ID. Now you can also activate or deactivate any device that’s plugged into it using your voice over Siri (which is integrated nicely) or directly, with a tap, on your device.

Setup — For iOS 12, setup is as follows: unbox the unit and plug it into the socket. Download the Elgato Eve app from the App Store (it’s free). Open the app and it asks to ‘see’ the code number included with the unit – this is on the little Get Started guide clipped to the inside of the box lid you took the unit out of. Line that up with the rectangle on the camera screen (inside the app itself), and it registers the code, there’s a pause of about a minute and they’re paired.
The Elgato Eve app, by the way, as per the directions in the little, very easy-to-follow included setup booklet, doesn’t exist for iOS 13 so I guess that little printed manual will be updated according to the manufacturing schedule, since mine still had the iOS 12 directions in it. Under iOS 13x, you need the Eve Home app, as Apple has changed and expanded how HomeKit works for the updated iOS. This is a bit mystifying when you go searching in the App Store for the Eve app, as you won’t find it. But once installed, this works the same way as the instructions, above, for iOS 12.
Now the Eve can be added to a ‘room’ which is a virtual assignation in HomeKit that may or may not correlate to an actual room, since you get to configure this how you want. By the same token, it impressed me that the Nanoleaf panels – which are from a different company – also added into the Eve app and lets you control them from there. Mostly, I assume people will control everything from the Home app anyway.

Added features and the Eve app — If you can check your own particular power bill, you can put in the rate you’re paying for electricity. You set the rate you actually pay for this in the Eve Home app under Settings>General>Energy Cost. Now the Energy unit can let you know, via the Eve Home app, how much power anything plugged into it is using.
Do this by tapping Rooms at the bottom of the Eve app, choose the name from the list of wherever the Energy is plugged into, for example ‘Living Room’, and then tap the name of whatever the Energy has plugged into it (in my case, ‘Lightbulb’).
If you have, say, on old heat pump which doesn’t have a timer function, or at least an easy-to-use timer function, you can set up schedules via the app of just turn it on remotely before you leave work, for example, so your house is toasty when you get there.
You can also download a version of the Eve setup guide from within the Eve app (and this has been updated-for-iOS 13 process).
The Eve app has a haptic reaction when you turn the Energy on or off, unlike the Home app. The Energy unit itself makes a definite click noise when it’s turned ff or on, should you be close enough to hear it. It’s a nice touch.

The more devices you add, the more comprehensive your control centre – the Home app – becomes

Home (the app) — The Home app, on Watch, iPad, iPhone and Mac, is a master controller for any HomeKit enabled device meaning whatever light bulbs you have, or other devices, you can have a snazzy interface in your pocket and act like a lesser god, turning things on and off and altering their characteristics according to whim. In my case, all I have is this and Nanoleaf lighting panels which I leave on, at a low setting, at night for an interesting night-light-style glow to assist night time navigation, and soon I’ll add the Eve Aqua which will let me control watering from a hose outlet.
You can see a good cross section of what HomeKit enabled accessories are available here on the Apple NZ site.
As a rational human being, of course, I don’t need any of this. However, as a geek, I love it! And now I want to try a whole of of things. There are many different bulbs you can dim and change the colour on, but honestly, while they look great, beyond an evening softening and warming, there’s really not all that much need for just changing the colour of light, is there? But there are devices that let you know when your front door is opened, for example, and cameras, temperature and atmosphere gauges and a lot more, meaning you can monitor these things whether you are at home or not. I’d be keen so try the Eve Weather Station and/or the Room air quality/temperature monitor and the Eve Wireless Door and Window Contact, and there’s plenty more to titillate the technocrat.
Meanwhile, I have a lot to learn about HomeKit. There’s a handy guide at iMore.

Summary — I’m glad Elgato has added the Australia/New Zealand style power plug to its range of minimalist and attractive devices. I am now eyeing these up with a relish which will alarm my partner. The Energy is attractive and particularly easy to use – I just wish I had something more exciting to plug into it than a standard lamp. You could plug a coffee machine into it and turn it on remotely when you wake up, presuming you set it up the night before with coffee and water in it of course, and there will be many ingenious uses for something you can plug almost any electrical device into. It also seems to me to be an affordable price for such a well-designed and well implemented unit.

Pros — Easy setup, easy pairing, excellent HomeKit integration

Cons — It’s almost instantaneous to turn something on or off if you’re close by with your iPad or iPhone, but it’s much slower if you’re in another room. This is due the low range of Bluetooth, since it’s Bluetooth-only and not wifi. (Apparently an Apple TV can work as a booster, but mine’s only on when I’m watching stuff.) You can buy a Bluetooth extender, though, or a bridge that taps it into your wifi, should you go further with automation.

What — Eve Energy $89.95 (NZ RRP)

System — For indoor use only. Output AC 220-230 volts, 50/60Hz, maximum and total loading 8 Amps at 1840 Watts. Requires Bluetooth compatibility up to Bluetooth 4.0, HomeKit on iOS 11.4 or later and the Home app on Mac OS 10.14 or later.
Height 7.2 cm (2.83 in), length 7.1 cm (2.79 in) width 7.2 cm (2.83 in) weight: 123 grams.

The Apocalypticon ~ America Amerika, more melt, world of pain

Have you ever wondered why a country could be collectively stupid enough to elect someone like Donald Trump to office? A new Gallup poll shows 40% of American adults comply to a strict view of creationism, in which God brought humans into existence within the last 10,000 years. This despite over 150 years of scientific inquiry including studies of transitional fossils and vestigial traits to the discovery of DNA and empirical observations of evolution in action. [Good Lord!]
Five Columbus, Ohio, police officers are facing departmental punishment for their roles in arresting Stephanie Clifford — better known as Stormy Daniels — in a strip club last summer. They include a police commander, a lieutenant, a sergeant, and two of the officers who arrested Daniels. [‘Stormy’ being someone allegedly stupid enough to have had an affair with the aforesaid Donald Trump.]
Another US chemical plant aflame — A mere four months after a Houston chemical plant fire made headlines, another Houston area plant has exploded into flames.
No Ratcliffe after all — President Trump abruptly dropped his intention to nominate Republican (Texas) John Ratcliffe, to serve as director of national intelligence.
Tensions between the president and the intelligence community appear to have worsened over the Ratcliffe episode, as some people in the spy world had made clear how unqualified they believed he was and just how unwelcome he would be atop the sprawling alphabet soup of US domestic and foreign spy agencies. [Ratcliffe’s main qualification appeared to have been that he was a clear Trump supporter.]
Massive US hack — A hacker swiped credit card applications, Social Security numbers and bank account information affecting more than 100 million people in the US and Canada from Capital One’s server.
Tech companies load up on people’s data — Washington Post tech columnist Geoffrey Fowler listened to four years’ worth of audio that Amazon had captured and stored from his Alexa smart speaker. He was surprised by what he found. [He was surprised, and yet he’s a ‘tech columnist’? Back to school for you, buddy.]

Climactic melt — Last week, Greenland’s ice melt reached new heights as the heatwave that battered Europe swept across the icy island. According to estimates, 12 billion tons of Greenland’s ice melted on Thursday 1st of August — equivalent to over 4 million Olympic swimming pools of water. You can watch it

World of pain — Hong Kong protesters are going to considerable lengths to defeat surveillance. During one demonstration, some reportedly aimed laser pointers at cameras and spray painted surveillance cameras outside of the government liaison office. [Hey China, it’s much harder to make personal fortunes after free and fair elections, right?]
Russian protests — Police in Moscow have arrested hundreds of people for demonstrating outside of City Hall. Protesters are calling for fair elections and for opposition candidates to be allowed to run for the city council. [Yeah, you know, it’s much harder to make personal fortunes after free and fair elections.]
Ebola — The challenges of containing ebola two years on have been immense. The virus is spreading in a deeply impoverished part of the Democratic Republic of Congo which has been ravaged by various militias since the final days of the Mobutu Sese Seko dictatorship in the mid-1990s.

Futurology ~ Warped Milky Way, heavy metal planet, Light Sail works, Intel Ice Lake, better bubble wrap, cockroach bot, Texan wind, permanent magnetics

The Light Sail satellite has successfully sail in space

The Milky Way is no frisbee — Rather than being flat as a Frisbee, the Milky Way’s star-studded disk is twisted and warped, according to a new three-dimensional map of our home galaxy. Viewed from the side, the spiral arms girdling our galaxy’s bulging core would resemble a record bent into an S shape, or a softly poached egg sliding off a slotted spoon.
~ Take that, Flat Universers!

Football planet leaks heavy metal — Iron and magnesium gases are escaping the atmosphere of WASP-121b, a hot Jupiter located around 880 light-years from Earth, according to new research published in the Astronomical Journal.
WASP-121b has a mass about 1.8 times that of Jupiter, and it’s very close to its host star, requiring just 1.275 days to make a complete orbit.
~ Hang on for a wild ride.

Light sail cube sat proves itself — Since unfurling the spacecraft’s silver solar sail last week, mission managers have been optimising the way the spacecraft orients itself during solar sailing. LightSail 2 has begun raising its orbit around the Earth to about 2 kilometres. The mission team has confirmed the apogee increase can only be attributed to solar sailing, meaning LightSail 2 has successfully completed its primary goal of demonstrating flight by light for CubeSats.
~ LightSail is a citizen-funded project from The Planetary Society.

Intel Ice Lake processors — Intel has finally unveiled its first batch of 10th-generation Core processors, Ice Lake. The 10-nanometer laptop chips are designed for better board integration and include native support for Wi-Fi 6 and Thunderbolt 3.
~ Thus these are options Apple has for future MacBooks.

Better bubble wrap — 3M has created an alternative to space-wasting and plastic proliferating bubble wrap  with Flex & Seal Shipping Rolls. The material is like a padded shipping envelope that comes deconstructed: the shipper has to do all of the assembly. But it allows for the creation of custom padded envelopes that are only as large as needed.
~ The plastic is even recyclable, to a degree anyway. 

Soft robot as ‘good’ as a cockroach — A group of researchers from Tsinghua University in China and University of California, Berkeley have presented a new kind of soft robot that’s both higher performance and much more robust than just about anything seen before. The deceptively simple robot looks like a bent strip of paper, but it’s able to move at 20 body lengths per second and survive being stomped on. Take that, cockroaches.
~ Hopefully they’re more hygienic, too. 

Texan wind — Wind power has surpassed coal for the first time in Texas, according to a new report. The numbers cap an enormous rise in wind power in the nation’s top energy-producing state over the past decades.
~ The real challenge is to harness all that wind from Donald Trump into something actually beneficial to all humans. 

Permanently magnetic — Scientists have created a permanently magnetic liquid. The liquid droplets can morph into various shapes and be externally manipulated to move around, according to a new study.
The liquid droplets can change shape from a sphere to a cylinder to a pancake.
~ So can I stick my drink to a metal table top? That could be useful in space.

The Apocalypticon ~ Migration, the US, data, the Earth, 1000th condor

Migrant image turns heads — A picture of an armed Mexican National Guard soldier impeding a crying migrant mother and her child from getting to the United States is spreading on social media and making headlines in Mexico. Mexico has beefed up border security after pressure and financial threats from Trump.
As many as 150 refugees are believed dead after their wooden boat that had been bound for Europe capsized off Libya’s coast. According to the United Nations, it’s the worst loss of life this year in Mediterranean.
US Marines arrested for ‘human smuggling’ — The Navy has apprehended 18 Marines and one sailor over their alleged involvement in human smuggling, drug offences and other crimes, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service said. [NCIS!]

US economic growth fell to a 2.1% annual rate in the second quarter — down from 3.1% in the first three months of 2019, and despite Trump’s pledge of 3%.
US drug company execs arrested for flood of opioids — Federal officials have indicted two former executives at the pharmaceutical wholesaler Miami-Luken for allegedly distributing millions of opioid pills illegally in rural Appalachia. Two pharmacists have also been charged, according to a statement from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio. [But hey, the profits!]
US beaches full of bacteria —A new report has found that more than half of the beaches in coastal states, the Great Lakes states and Puerto Rico saw at least one day in 2018 where their water wasn’t safe for swimming. Why? Bacteria levels are higher than the level the Environmental Protection Agency deems acceptable.
Louisiana cops fired for suggesting Representative Ocasio-Cortez should be assassinated — Two police officers in Gretna, Louisiana in the USA have been fired over a Facebook post that suggested Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez should be killed. One of the officers published the content and another police officer liked it. [Justice! But also very scary since what they were reacting to was fake information anyway.]
Wonderful man Bill Gates, who is really, really rich but who funds Third world toilets, has been profiting from prisons — According to Bloomberg, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust, which manages the charity’s endowment assets, just added about 200,000 shares to Serco Group Plc, which operates private prisons and detention centres across the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. This reportedly brought the shares to 3.74 million, which amounts to about $9 million.
Gates’ former company, Microsoft, will pay out $37 million in a settlement to resolve charges its staff bribed government officials in Hungary.

Big Data — YouTube is ‘getting serious’ about hate speech, but its service is still riddled with it: more than six weeks later, however, it remains disturbingly easy to find channels associated with hate groups on the platform.
US employers tracking their workers in detail — To be an employee of a large company in the US now often means becoming a workforce data generator – from the first email sent from bed in the morning to the Wi-Fi hotspot used during lunch to the new business contact added before going home. Employers are parsing those interactions to learn who is influential, which teams are most productive and who is a flight risk.
Hackers have managed to steal data from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) — The attackers managed to steal about 7.5 terabytes of data from a major FSB contractor, thus exposing the secret projects the agency was working on to de-anonymise Tor browsing, scrape data from social media, and to cut off Russia’s internet from the rest of the world. [Coz Russia, you know, sucks.]
Apple contractors listen to Siri conversations — A small number of recordings are passed on to contractors working for Apple, tasked with determining if the Siri activation was accidental or on purpose, if it was a query within the range of Siri’s capabilities, and whether Siri acted properly.
Groundswell of resentment in Russia — As Russian President Vladimir Putin approaches his 20th year in power, anger over bread-and-butter issues is sparking protests across the country. Even in sleepy Pereslavl-Zalessky, population 40,000, locals no longer hide their frustration with the powers that be.

Earth — Who stops killer asteroids from striking Earth? No one, really, but a few scientists are ‘looking at it‘.
Australian minister wants sacred trees ripped out to save two minutes drive — Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley has consented to the destruction of trees sacred to the Djab Wurrung people, who are the traditional owners of the land.
Europe is burning — A heat wave, the second in roughly a month, is taking over the continent, and it’s already breaking records. Again. And these are some of the world’s oldest temperature records.
US communities aren’t ready for climate change — Mayors from small and midsize towns along the Mississippi River are calling for more federal support to upgrade infrastructure and help move residents out of harm’s way.

England gets its Trump : like Trump, Johnson is a larger-than-life populist who has made controlling immigration and restoring his nation’s standing in the world key issues in recent years. (Unlike Trump, he is given to speaking in Latin, making ancient historical allusions and has written a biography of Winston Churchill). [So wait, we’re supposed to be happy England has a Trump with a private school education and some Latin?]

Good news — There aint much. But in the 1980s, fewer than two dozen Californian condors were left in the world. Conservationists rounded up the remaining condors and began breeding them in captivity: the 1000th chick has just hatched. Yay.

Futurology ~ White Dwarf, light-sail, plant DNA, new antibiotic, hybrid plane, flying platform, prosthetic feelings

A two-engined Cessna has had one of those refitted with electric

Amazing white dwarf discovery — Scientists have discovered a pair of white dwarfs that might one day produce a major gravitational wave discovery, according to a new paper. Scientists are building a space-based gravitational wave detector called the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA). Two newly discovered binary white dwarfs appear to be a prime source for the gravitational waves that LISA could detect.
~ Um, yay?

Spacecraft deploys its solar sails — A tiny spacecraft in Earth orbit has successfully deployed its solar sails. Called LightSail 2, the craft will now use the power of the Sun to lift its orbital height even further, in what’s considered an important test of this promising means of propulsion.
~ This prototype is the size of a toaster.

Scientists edit plant DNA — Researchers in Japan have edited plant mitochondrial DNA for the first time, which could lead to a more secure food supply.
~ They used the techniques to edit out infertility. 

One-bead, one-compound antibiotic — A team of scientists in Japan has identified multiple promising new drug candidates to treat antibiotic-resistant infections, including the superbug MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).
Due to the widespread and irresponsible use of antibiotics, both for farming and for the treatment of diseases not caused by bacteria, several drug-resistant bacterial strains have emerged in the past decade.
~ The team first identified promising new natural antibiotic from a soil sample collected in the subtropical island of Okinawa.

Cessna retrofitted with hybrid power takes to the air — Ampair, a Los Angeles clean tech company in my neck of the woods, is set to begin accepting orders for a hybrid electric aircraft at the EAA AirVenture airshow in Wisconsin next week.
Dubbed the EEL, the aircraft is in fact a retrofit of a Cessna 337, an aircraft that has a forward-mounted prop engine that pulls and a rear-mounted prop engine that pushes. Ampair’s retrofit replaces one of those internal combustion engines with an electric motor powered by batteries.
~ Aviation currently contributes 12% of all U.S. carbon emissions and 4.9% globally.

Flying Platform gets half way across the English Channel, falls into sea — Daredevil inventor Franky Zapata failed to cross the English Channel on his flyboard after taking off from Sangatte, France. Zapata travelled halfway across the 35km waterway before he ran into trouble at his refuelling point and ended up in the water.
~ He was wearing a lifejacket and reportedly didn’t suffer any major injuries.

Scientists have created a prosthetic arm that lets patients feel touch again — For people who have lost a hand or arm, prosthetics may restore some functioning, but not the sense of touch itself. Until now — scientists at the University of Utah in the US say they’ve created technology that can return some degree of feeling for people with amputations.
~ The tech provides an interface between a prosthetic hand and the user’s remaining arm sensory and motor nerves.

The Apocalypticon ~ Trumps inspires fascists, world heat, world problems

Trump inspires searches for definitions of Fascism — Donald Trump held another neo-fascist rally Thursday in North Carolina USA where the crowd chanted things like “treason,” “traitor” and “send her back,” while Trump talked about Democratic members of US Congress. Online dictionary searches in the US from just after the rally show just how bad things have become in the country. [Hey, Donald, how about setting up the Trump Youth? Fun for all the kids, right? Well, fun for the white ones, anyway.]
Trump’s ‘go back’ rhetoric is sign of a racially divisive and turbulent year to come, writes the NPR.
New documents reveal how Trump, Cohen, aides worked to seal hush money deals — Trump took part in phone calls with his then-personal lawyer Michael Cohen as the attorney and other aides scrambled to arrange hush payments.
US tests killing robotised vehicles — The US Army has already been testing robotic squad vehicles such as the Multi-Utility Tactical Transport (MUTT) and semi-autonomous targeting systems such as the Advanced Targeting and Lethality Automated System (ATLAS). It will soon conduct live-fire testing of a new Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) built on M113 armoured personnel carrier chassis next year. [When a machine kills someone, where sits the moral conundrum? Squarely with the regime deploying them, rather than soldiers charged to carry out murder.]
A journalist has been digging into years of corruption and disfunction at the US Border Protection Agency. Customs and Border Protection is the largest law enforcement agency in the US, with 45,000 gun-carrying officers and agents. It’s larger than the NYPD and larger than the US Coast Guard.
Oakland also bans fail recognition — The Oakland City Council in California has voted unanimously to ban the use of facial recognition technology by the city, including its police force. It’s the third ban of the tech by a US city since May.
Marshall Islands still radioactive after US tests — An analysis of soil samples, ocean sediment, and fruits from the Marshall Islands, the site of nearly 70 nuclear weapons tests during the 1940s and 1950s, has revealed alarmingly high levels of radiation, with some regions at levels exceeding areas affected by the Fukushima and Chernobyl disasters.

Big Data — The European Union is planning an antitrust investigation into e-commerce giant Amazon over its treatment of third-party merchants that rely on the company’s marketplace to sell goods, the Wall Street Journal has reported.
US lawmakers want Amazon investigated — Over a dozen progressive US lawmakers have co-signed a letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to request a “comprehensive investigation into the workplace conditions” in Amazon and its subsidiary businesses’ warehouses.
App boss is a terrible master — US same-day grocery service Instacart has a checkered past when it comes to fair and dignified labour practices, and now dozens of its contract workers are claiming that the company app torments them into accepting shitty jobs or suffering the consequences. [Keep that in mind when considering a robotised fighting vehicle, as above.]
Google yanks dogs apps — Google has yanked several apps from its Play Store after cybersecurity firm Avast identified them as “all likely designed by a Russian developer to allow people to stalk employees, romantic partners, or kids.”
Now you can find out which Facebook advertisers get your data — The next time you see Facebook ads for, say, erectile dysfunction pills or egg freezing, you can check to see why you were targeted by those brands and where the companies got your data. [I deleted Facebook a few months back and it’s like being able to breathe again. I also got big time benefits.]
Data on all Bulgarians —Someone has stolen the personal and financial information of millions of Bulgarian taxpayers, likely the majority of the adult population.

Climate fears — Arctic on fire: Vast stretches of Earth’s northern latitudes are on fire right now. Hot weather has engulfed a huge portion of the Arctic, from Alaska to Greenland to Siberia. That’s helped create conditions ripe for wildfires, including some truly massive fires burning in remote parts of the region that are being seen by satellites.
Coral and poop — It’s no secret corals are dying at an alarming rate. While climate change heating up the oceans is understood to be screwing over corals, a new study points fingers at a different culprit: human poop.
Chennai gets rain but has no water — This city of nearly 10 million — India’s sixth largest — has almost run out of water. But why? Industry is diverting the water for its own use before it reaches the reservoirs.
Heatwaves to further engulf America — As the globe warms in the years ahead, days with extreme heat are forecast to skyrocket across hundreds of US cities, a new study suggests, perhaps even breaking the “heat index.”
Rome is sweltering and has trash everywhere — Flocks of cawing seagulls have replaced traffic roar as the soundtrack of Roman life.

While we’re out in the world — Ebola a health emergency: The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced this week that it has elected to declare the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo a “public health emergency of international concern,” a decision that comes nearly a year after the outbreak was first declared and after the infection of thousands of people.
Dutch complicity in Srebrenica — The Netherlands’ Supreme Court has affirmed the country’s troops are partly to blame for the deaths of 350 Muslim men and boys after the fall of the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica. But in a break with an earlier ruling, the court lowered the Dutch liability for the massacre to 10%, from 30%.
Insufficient fruit and vegetables — If everyone around the globe began to eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, there wouldn’t be enough to go around. That’s the conclusion of a new study published in The Lancet Planetary Health.

But there is some good news — The 20-50 metre asteroid 2006 QV8 will not hit the Earth on September 9th 2019.
Ace arsehole Martin Shkreli, the former pharmaceutical CEO widely known as Pharma Bro, has lost his bid to overturn a seven-year prison sentence for fraud. Hurrah!

Futurology ~ Dark Matter, Apollo tech, Antarctic idea, eel generator, AI languages, electric Harley, insect antioxidants

Who ever would have thought? An electric Harley Davidson! (Image: Harley Davidson, via Gizmodo)

Deaths from Dark Matter — The fact no one has died from being struck by dark matter is enough proof to rule out certain ideas about the mysterious stuff, according to one new theory paper.
~ Hard to prove, but I can assert it hasn’t killed me yet. 

Moon missions gave us lots of tech — Here are several innovations from Apollo that made their way into the transportation world here on earth. They include ‘fly by wire’, better flame retardants and more.
~ Even little DustBuster vacuum cleaners!

Saving the Antarctic — A new study looks at an avenue of saving the Antractic glaciers by increasing snowfall onto the surface to thicken the ice. The process that could in theory stabilise them by adding heft that would push the grounding line — where the ice, seafloor, and ocean meet — further out to sea.
~ Ambulance. Cliff. Bottom.

Electric eel inspires new generator — Researchers from the Beijing Institute of Nanoenergy and Nanosystems and the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences describe a stretchable nanogenerator that takes inspiration from electric eels.
~ It’s … a … moray!

Some languages never been deciphered could be get the machine translation treatment — Jiaming Luo and Regina Barzilay from MIT and Yuan Cao from Google’s AI lab in Mountain View, California have developed a machine-learning system capable of deciphering lost languages, and they’ve demonstrated it by having it decipher Linear B.
~ Next, the never-deciphered Linear A?

Electric Harley Davidson Live Wire — Harley-Davidson’s new, extremely pricey electric motorbike  has an official power rating of 105 horses and 39kg-ft from a 15,000 RPM permanent magnet synchronous motor with water jacket cooling.
~ It comes with an app, of course. 

Insects high in anti-oxidants — Of course, you have to eat them! New research has demonstrated that edible insects are high in antioxidants — and whether or not you buy into the health benefits of eating antioxidants, it’s an important finding from a nutrition perspective.
~ ‘Better’ than olive oil and orange juice. 

The Apocalypticon ~ Shit version of New Zealand, trolls and twits

Around the apocalyptical world — why is Australia the shit version of New Zealand? Or so asks Australian Tegan Jones.
Abandoned Russian sub leaking radiation — Using a robotic sub, a team of investigators has detected traces of radiation leaking from Komsomolets, a Soviet nuclear submarine that sank 30 years ago in the Norwegian Sea. The recorded radiation levels are unusually high, but scientists say it’s not threatening humans or marine life.
Massive seaweed bloom the ‘new normal’? Scientists in Florida have detected the largest seaweed bloom in the world. Extending from the Gulf of Mexico to the African coast, the unusually large bloom is threatening marine life and coastal regions, with the researchers warning it’s likely a sign of things to come.
A bloom of toxic algae has forced Mississippi to close 25 beaches along its Gulf Coast.
Beautiful Russian lake is actually toxic — The turquoise water of a lake in Siberia looks like a tropical paradise and it’s drawn in hundreds of Instagrammers who have posed in and around the ‘Novosibirsk Maldives.’ But it’s not white sands or microscopic plankton that give the water its unusual hue: the “lake” is actually a human-made ash dump, used to store toxic byproducts from a power plant’s burned coal.
Largest carbon sync is now leaching its carbon — Carbon that’s been locked up in the Congo Basin’s rainforest soils for hundreds to thousands of years is starting to seep out. This because the rainforest is being steamrolled for agriculture and charcoal production.
Turkey chooses Russian missiles — The first pieces of the S-400 missile defence system Turkey bought from Russia, against the wishes of the U.S. and NATO, has begun arriving, according to Turkey’s National Defense Ministry. In response, the Pentagon is expected to announce that Turkey will be barred from receiving the new F-35 fighter.
Streaming online porn and Netflix produces as much CO2 as Belgium — The transmission and viewing of online videos generates 300 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, or nearly 1% of global emissions. On-demand video services such as Netflix account for a third of this, with online pornographic videos generating another third.

Trolls and twits — Facebook’s Libra project getting criticised: Facebook’s already-troubled Libra cryptocurrency project, which has already run into significant opposition among the US House Committee on Financial Services and the Senate Banking Committee, is running headlong into further resistance from regulators.
President Trump has announced he is directing his administration to explore all regulatory and legislation solutions to “protect the free speech of all Americans.” [So wait, Americans do understand irony?]
US civil rights organisations were, somehow, both pleased and exasperated with Twitter after the social network announced the latest update to its rules against “hateful conduct.”
Cortez being sued — Representative. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat for New York, is being sued by two people who say they criticised her on Twitter and were then blocked from her account, which has more than 4.7 million followers.
Humans are listening to your questions to Google Assistant — Human contractors have been transcribing audio clips from Google Assistant devices, according to Belgium’s VRT NWS.

And the good news? If you’re reading this, you’re probably still breathing, too.


Futurology ~ Space robots, satellite bridges, poker-bot, car home power, squeezer-freezer, ancient cows, ancient Europeans

The new 40kWh Nissan Leaf has the capability to become your personal, massive, mobile battery which can be used for power in the home.(Image: Nissan)

How NASA will prolong the lives of the Voyager probes, 11 billion miles from Earth — Launched 42 years ago, the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 space probes are now exploring the outer realms of our solar system. Sadly, the end of the mission is now firmly in sight, but NASA has a plan to keep the probes operational for as long as possible before their power finally runs out.
~ The new space explorers are our robots. 

Satellite imagery can predict bridge collapses — Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and the UK’s University of Bath believe advanced satellite imagery can be used for analysing structures like bridges for tiny movements that could be signs of potential collapse.
~ This kind of precision from afar seems impossible, you’d think. 

Super computer beats all comers in poker — Computer scientists have developed a card-playing bot, called Pluribus, capable of defeating some of the world’s best players at six-person no-limit Texas hold’em poker, in what’s considered an important breakthrough in artificial intelligence.
~ Yeah, can’t read its expression, not fair. 

New Nissan Leaf can help power your home — Nissan confirmed at the launch that the new Leaf, with a 40kWh battery, will be a V2H (vehicle-to-home) energy asset – meaning that, unlike other electric vehicles, it will have the capability to charge your home (subject to further testing with Australia’s network owners and operators).
~ Why not use its battery when it’s parked? 

Squeeze to freeze — A research team from Tohoku University, Nissan Motor Co., Shinshu University and Okayama University have discovered how to use a nanosponge to carry out liquid-to-gas phase transitions. Conventional systems use hydrofluorocarbons as a refrigerant, but hydrofluorocarbons are super pollutants, with a Global Warming Potential about 1300 times higher than carbon dioxide. Instead of a refrigerant, researchers have figured out how to use force for cooling.
~ Cool in your home without warming the planet. 

Scientists have found evidence of Bronze Age human civilisation written into ancient cattle DNA — The research team collected and sequenced DNA samples from ancient domesticated and wild cattle, or aurochs, to tell the story of cattle domestication in the Fertile Crescent, a region today defined as the Middle East and the Levant. The results reveal a sudden introduction of DNA from a different cattle breed originating in the Indus Valley.
~ This was perhaps the result of humans adapting to a sudden change to the climate.

Earliest humans in Europe pushed back again — A comprehensive re-analysis of a skull fragment found in a Greek cave back in the late 1970s suggests early modern humans were present in Eurasia some 210,000 years ago. It’s the earliest indication of our species on the continent, but the lack of supporting archaeological evidence raises some questions.
~ Ancient-ancient-ancient Greeks indeed. 

The Apocalypticon ~ Trash talking, data-harming and global warming

Trash talking — Americans create the most waste in the world, they’re among the worst at recycling it.
So why not add infamy to idiocy? That’s clearly what Trump figured when he hailed America’s military and declared the US “is stronger today than it ever was before” in a Fourth of July speech with patriotic themes underscored by flyovers from fighter jets and displays of tanks near the stage at the Lincoln Memorial. [At least now we know what he learnt from Kim Jong-Un in that quick visit to North Korea.]
That mighty US Air Force, which is really really powerful, dropped dummy bombs on Florida by mistake on July 1st. The public has been asked not to touch them. [Hoorah!]
Fewer than 40% of Americans have ever had an HIV test, according to a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These rates are even lower in states with rural areas where the disease is disproportionately more common.
Frack that — A sweeping report that evolved from work that helped ban fracking in New York State has been released to help the American public fight the practice as it pops up elsewhere across the country.
Massive wiretap — A single court-authorised wiretap order resulted in authorities in the Southern District of Texas, USA, scooping up more than 9.2 million communications.
NSA improperly collected US phone call data even after saying problem was fixed.

Data wars — ‘Impartial’ Zuckerberg doesn’t want Facebook broken up: the US government shouldn’t break up Facebook because that wouldn’t address the real problems that people face in the age of social media, according to CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg, a man who is currently worth an estimated $US71.5 billion ($102 billion) precisely because the social media company is so large.
Civil rights leaders unimpressed at Facebook’s attempts — Many civil rights leaders directly involved in discussions with Facebook say the company has only agreed so far to half-steps unlikely to effect substantive change.
Italy slaps Facebook … with wet bus ticket — Italy’s privacy watchdog announced its decision to fine world-swallowing social platform Facebook €1 million (about $NZ1.7 million) for the catastrophic mishandling of data associated with now-defunct Cambridge Analytica. [Wow, yeah, that’s only going to affect the lunch buffet for a few weeks.]
Alexa keeps your conversations — Next time you use Amazon Alexa to message a friend or order a pizza, know that the recording could be stored indefinitely, even if you ask to delete it.
Google’s toxic data mess — Google’s internet freedom moonshot has gotten glowing attention for its ambitious projects. But current and former employees, leaked documents, and internal messages reveal a grim reality. “The mission of the team is to save the day for the poor brown people.” Yikes!
Bitcoin uses as much energy as the whole of Switzerland — That’s according to a new online tool from the University of Cambridge.
Iranian authorities have seized about 1000 bitcoin mining machines in two abandoned factories, state television reported, after warnings that the activity had led to a spike in consumption of government-subsidised electricity.
New Zealand anger at Google — Government officials in New Zealand are angry and considering legal options after Google sent newsletter subscribers information about a murder case last year.
Mental health suffers with social media use — In a survey of over 22,000 people in Indonesia, researchers have found that heavy social media usage is linked to poor mental health there.

Heat — Hot world, hot France: The small, quaint town of Villevieille, southern France, the temperature soared to 45.11°C (113.2 degrees F). Météo-France, the national weather service, issued its highest warning level for four French regions.
Temperatures climbed to 32°C (90°F) in Anchorage, Alaska — This broke the all-time heat record for the northerly city. It was also the driest June on record.
Indian water apocalypse — A combination of climate change, bad policies and political apathy is steadily pushing India into a catastrophic water crisis that threatens stability in South Asia.
Less ice — Floating ice off the southern continent steadily increased from 1979 and hit a record high in 2014. But three years later, the annual average extent of Antarctic sea ice hit its lowest mark, wiping out three-and-a-half decades of gains — and then some, a NASA study of satellite data shows.
US wasps enjoy the extra heat — Typical yellow jacket nests might contain up to a few thousand workers in a cavity, but if the weather doesn’t get cold enough in the winter to kill off many of these insects, the nests can live on. This has produced car-sized nests containing 15,000 insects or more.
Cockroaches getting harder to kill — The cockroaches that plague our homes are even more indestructible than we thought, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of Purdue in Indiana.

But planting more trees could really help with climate change — We’d need to add a US-sized chunk of trees, though. As trees grow, they absorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that are driving global heating. Tree planting is “a climate change solution that doesn’t require President Trump to immediately start believing in climate change, or scientists to come up with technological solutions to draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere”, professor Tom Crowther said. “It is available now, it is the cheapest one possible and every one of us can get involved.”

Futurology ~ FRBs, twinkling star, light torque, deaf CRISPR, metabolism, solar train, erasable ink, water repellant, Flash-cam

The Byron Bay Railroad in Australia converted this vintage diesel train to run 100% solar

Very distant fast radio bursts — Astronomers have spent the past dozen years hunting for fast radio bursts (FRBs). These flashes of radio waves come from outer space and last just milliseconds. And after a dozen years of work we still don’t know exactly what causes them, only that it must be something very powerful, as they’ve clearly travelled a long way (billions of light-years).
~ And strewth! They’re making progress thanks to an Australian array. 

Strange twinkling star — Typically, if the planet-hunting Kepler telescope saw a regularly dimming star, that would signal the presence of an exoplanet periodically passing between the star and Earth. But researchers identified a star called EPIC 249706694 (HD 139139) that seems to dim at random, and the team hasn’t been able to come up with an explanation for the weird observation.
~ How they wonder what you are. 

Torque of light — A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in Spain and the US has announced that they have discovered a new property of light: self-torque. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes how they happened to spot the new property and possible uses for it.
~ Acceleration?

CRISPR for Russian deaf — Five deaf Russian couples want to try the CRISPR gene-editing technique so they can have a biological child who can hear, biologist Denis Rebrikov has told New Scientist. He plans to apply to the relevant Russian authorities for permission in “a couple of weeks”. The parents have a recessive form of deafness, meaning all their children would normally inherit the same condition.
~ Perhaps this is justified, then. 

Origins of metabolism identified — A Rutgers-led study sheds light on one of the most enduring mysteries of science: how did metabolism – the process by which life powers itself by converting energy from food into movement and growth – begin?
~ Well, if you’re going to reverse-engineer primordial proteins …

Solar powered train — The Byron Bay Railroad Company in Australia operates a 100-seat vintage train on a short 6-kilometre  route that basically goes from a town and down to a resort and beach, then back. A couple of years ago the town decided to invest in converting the train to pure EV, powered by the sun.
~ Yes, this formerly polluting diesel train is now 100% powered by the sun 100% of the time.

Erasable ink — Recycling paper is good but it still takes its toll on the environment. Researchers at Rutgers have come up with a new way to erase ink off a printed page, allowing it to be run through a printer again and again. This works with regular old copy paper and the standard toner used in copiers around the world, trading lasers for high-intensity xenon lamps that pulse light.
~ The page can be wiped clean using a small amount of alcohol. I’ll drink to that. 

Force field against water — Researchers at MIT have found a way to make water-repellent surfaces better shed a soaking.
The new method builds on research from about six years ago when it was discovered that small macroscopic features added to a surface, such as a series of nearly imperceptible ridges, helped break up a water drop’s shape and symmetry as it recoils from an impact, increasing the speed at which it bounces away from that surface. More complex structures reduce the spread of water droplets, meaning they’re less likely to turn to use on, say, aircraft fuselages.
~ The new structures can also be applied to fabrics.

Canon adds a camera to a flash drive — Canon promises it’s shockproof and waterproof (to a depth of just 1m, however, it’s not for divers) and its 13 megapixel 1/3-inch CMOS sensor can also record hi-def video at 60 frames per second.
~ It’s clever: the carabiner clip lets you frame the photo, as it has no LCD screen, or you can monitor it from your smartphone. 

The Apocalypticon ~ Trump hell-bent, exacerbating inequality, climate fears, tranche of idiots

Trump administration debates encryption … behind closed doors. Officials held a National Security Council meeting in the US focussed on the challenges and benefits of encryption.
Emails reveal how the Trump regime creates Twitter propaganda to excuse the migrant baby jails — On May 31, 2018, the Twitter account for Tyler Q Houlton, former press secretary for the US Department of Homeland Security sent out a tweet lecturing Senator Dianne Feinstein of California about the Trump regime’s immigration policies.
The bizarrely confrontational tweet starts with “News Flash @SenFeinstein: We don’t have a policy of separating families.” But as we now know, the Trump regime did, in fact, have a policy of separating children from their families at the border, and the policy never really stopped. But the tweet wasn’t just a hot-headed, spur-of-the-moment slip-up: the tweet went through revisions and was reviewed by numerous people before it was sent out into the world.
United States Homeland Security officials have attempted to downplay the impact of a security intrusion that reached deep into the network of a federal surveillance contractor, secret documents, handbooks, and slides concerning surveillance technology deployed along US borders are being widely and openly shared online. Reporters are digging through the dump and already expanding our understanding of the enormous surveillance apparatus being erected on the US border.
No toothpaste for camp kids — The US Justice Department argued in federal court that government agencies like Customs and Border Protection have no responsibility to provide toothbrushes, toothpaste, and soap to migrant kids who are currently held in America’s vast network of concentration camps. [Well, did the Nazis provide toothbrushes and toothpaste for their concentration camp inmates? No, they did not.]
Star Wars convention impacted by Homeland Security — On the first day of Star Wars Celebration Chicago this April, it was suddenly announced that Riz Ahmed (he played Imperial courier-turned Rebel hero Bodhi Rook in Rogue One) had to cancel his appearance at the convention. Now, the actor’s revealed why: Homeland Security wouldn’t let him board his flight.
Facial recognition ban — Meanwhile, Massachusetts just became the second US city to ban the use of facial recognition in public space.
But companies can use employee smartphones to track them that’s thanks to PhoneAgent.

Away from the US — Trump’s impacts. Global commerce is “being hit by new trade restrictions on a historically high level,” World Trade Organization Director-General Roberto Azevedo said in a report Monday that pointed to an increase in protectionist measures by G20 countries. “This will have consequences in increased uncertainty, lower investment and weaker trade growth.” [What an economic maestro.]
Following reports the US carried out cyberattacks against Iran, a senior US official has warned about hacking attempts from Iran directed at the United States.
Libra will concentrate economic power in Facebook — Hughes, who apparently still considers his university roommate Mark Zuckerberg a friend, has said Zuckerberg is too powerful and that the company should be broken up. Now Hughes has warned that Facebook’s new planned digital currency Libra would shift monetary power to corporate giants. The Switzerland-based Libra Association is a group composed of Facebook and its global corporate partners with an entry fee of $US10 million ($14 million). It will be making all the governance decisions surrounding this new global currency.
Robots are expected to take over some 20 million manufacturing jobs worldwide by 2030, extending a trend of worsening social inequality while boosting overall economic output, a new study shows.
Upwards of 90% of insects found in British hospitals carry potentially harmful bacteria, according to new research.

Climate fears — Greenland’s ice is doomed. Research published in Science Advances finds that if emissions continue to climb at their current rate, all Greenland’s ice could melt by the year 3000, causing sea levels to rise 7.01m and redrawing coastlines around the world.
Indias’ sixth-largest city is almost dry — The floor of the Chembarambakkam reservoir is cracked open, dry and sun-baked. About 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) away, in Chennai, India’s sixth largest city, millions of people are running out of water.
Everglades ablaze — The US Democratic National Committee refuses to hold a climate change-focused debate despite calls for one from activists and candidates. And now, it would seem the Everglades are also helping to make their case: they’re on fire.
Jet contrails are adding to global warming — Under certain conditions these contrails can linger for hours, absorbing thermal radiation emitted by the Earth and adding to warming. By 2050, contrail-induced warming could be three times higher than it was in 2006.

Any good news? Not really. Even the US Democrats seems to attract its tranche of idiots.

Futurology ~ Rover wheels, solar car, sugar fuel, Crohn’s diet

The Lightyear concept car is causing quite a buzz – it does 450kms on a single, solar, charge

Mars Rover gets wheels — At just a little over a year away from the launch of the Mars 2020 Mission, which will see NASA’s new rover reach the Red Planet on 18 February 2021, NASA has fitted the wheels to the vehicle.
Once in Jezero Crater, the rover will search for signs of prior habitability and evidence of past microbial life, collect rock and surface samples, and perform some groundwork for a human mission to Mars, including an oxygen production test. Each wheel (there are six) has its own motor.
~ A roving it will go.

Solar-powered electric car — Lightyear, a startup from the Netherlands, has come a long way since it won a Crunchie award in 2015, with a vehicle that now looks ready for the road. The Lightyear One prototype vehicle has a sleek, driver-friendly design and also boasts a range of 450 miles on a single charge – definitely a first for a car powered by solar and intended for the actual consumer market.
~ Will it work better in countries that actually get substantial sunlight? 

Fuel from plants — Researchers in Japan and China have developed a two-step method to more efficiently break down carbohydrates into their single sugar components for the production of green fuel.
~ I can envisage so many issues with this around ramping up plant production to make fuel!

Apple’s new Mac Pro is being manufactured in China — After six years of manufacturing the cylindrical Mac Pro in Texas, Apple has shifted production of the new Mac Pro to China, even as trade tensions escalate between the US and China.
~ Imagine how much more than its ridiculous price it would cost at US labour rates!

Crohn’s diet breakthrough? A 25-year-old man first been diagnosed with Crohn’s in 2014 cut out all animal products and processed foods from his diet for 40 days, as part of a “period of religious observation.” He decided to stick with the diet, and a colonoscopy of the man’s ileum (the end of the small intestine long affected by his Crohn’s) revealed that it had fully healed.
~ This definitely deserves more research. 

Apple Mac, iPhone & iPad news for New Zealanders

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