Technology

Elon Musk can rebuild Puerto Rico’s power grid, if given the chance

Robert Downey Jr.’s version of Tony Stark in “Iron Man 2” may have been loosely based on Elon Musk, but it appears Musk is the real super-hero, as he tries to save one energy grid at a time. Responding to a comment from a follower, Musk said that he could rebuild Puerto Rico’s electrical infrastructure destroyed by Hurricane Maria. “The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too,” Musk tweeted. Upon seeing this, Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Rossello‏ tweeted back at Musk, writing “Let’s talk.” Musk responded, saying he would be happy to talk and is hopeful Tesla can help. According to several media reports, 95 percent of the U.S. territory is still without power after the category 4 hurricane battered the island weeks ago. Some estimates have said that a full restoration of power may not return to Puerto Rico for as long as six months. In addition to selling electric cars, including the recently introduced Model 3, Tesla has an energy storage business, selling battery packs to commercial utilities, as well as home residences. It also has a solar panel business, after it acquired Solar City, co-founded by Musk’s cousin Lyndon Rive, for $2.6 billion in November 2016. Tesla has powered such smaller islands as Kauai in Hawaii and Ta’u in American Samoa, according to the company’s website. The populations of those islands is far less than the 3.4 million people living in Puerto Rico. James Murdoch, the CEO of 21st Century Fox, parent of Fox News, is a member of Tesla’s board of directors. Tesla has already sent a number of its battery packs to Puerto Rico to help the island store energy in an effort to offset the shortage. Musk has also personally donated $250,000 in an effort to rebuild the island. The conversation between Rossello and Musk is similar to one that took place several months ago, between Musk and billionaire entrepreneur Mike Cannon-Brookes, who asked if Musk was serious about ending South Australia’s rolling blackouts. Musk responded by saying the company could do it in 100 days from the time the contract was signed or it would be free. It has since won a contract to help fix the issues in South Australia.

Definitely something to keep an eye on…  As a side note, in reference to the first sentence (above)..  Elon Musk actually, ironically, made a cameo appearance in Iron Man 2 toward the beginning of the film.

Trump’s financial strategy persuades China to put screws to North Korea

President Trump persuaded China to freeze all financial transactions with North Korea and ordered a new round of U.S. sanctions Thursday, closing out his first U.N. General Assembly with a major diplomatic victory in his efforts to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile programs short of war. In a carefully choreographed strategy deployed from the shadow of the United Nations headquarters in New York, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin called the head of China’s central bank very early Thursday to alert him that Mr. Trump was preparing an executive order to sanction any financial institutions doing business with North Korea. He asked for the cooperation of China, the main source of North Korea’s cash. Hours later, the People’s Bank of China announced it was directing all other banks in China to halt financial transactions with North Korea. Soon afterward, Mr. Trump signed an executive order in a meeting with the presidents of South Korea and Japan, expanding the Treasury Department’s ability to freeze the assets of banks or individuals doing business with Pyongyang. Mr. Trump praised China’s action, saying with uncharacteristic understatement that it was “somewhat unexpected.” “For much too long, North Korea has been allowed to abuse the international financial system to facilitate funding for its nuclear weapons and missile programs,” Mr. Trump said. “Tolerance for this disgraceful practice must end now.” Mr. Trump’s tightening of the screws culminated his weeklong effort to marshal more international pressure on North Korea. The expanded and coordinated sanctions were announced two days after Mr. Trump alarmed many at the General Assembly by warning that the U.S. was prepared to “totally destroy” North Korea if it attacked the U.S. or its allies. South Korean President Moon Jae-in praised Mr. Trump’s handling of the crisis, saying through a translator, “North Korea has continued to make provocations, and this is extremely deplorable and this has angered both me and our people, but the U.S. has responded firmly and in a very good way.” White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Mr. Trump is taking the steps to try to resolve the crisis “short of war.” A senior administration official said the White House wants China and North Korea to understand that “this is different than anything in the last quarter century.” “We’re not negotiating for the right to negotiate, which is all the ‘strategic patience’ was all about,” the official said. “We’re going to try and have discussions so that we’ll reach a point where we agree to have negotiations. And we’ve made it clear that they need to step forward and be prepared to abandon the ballistic missile program and dismantle the nuclear weapons program. That’s where negotiations and discussions begin.” The official added, “We think China’s going to need to walk with them on that because of the outsized role that China plays in their economy, their long historic relationship, dating all the way back to the Korean War.” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un described Mr. Trump early Friday in Asia as “mentally deranged,” according to Reuters. He said North Korea would consider the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history” against the U.S. in response to Mr. Trump’s threat to “totally destroy” the North. Some analysts said Mr. Trump’s thinly veiled threat of sanctions against Chinese banks, his lobbying of Chinese President Xi Jinping and even perhaps his threat of nuclear war appear to be working, at least for now. “U.S. pressure is having an effect,” said Bill Bishop, a China analyst and publisher of the Sinocism newsletter. “If the U.S. decides to ratchet up secondary sanctions another notch, expect sanctions and/or penalties against a large [People’s Republic of China] bank like China Merchants, but not one of the big four.” Michael C. Desch, director of the International Security Center at Notre Dame University, said China was likely responding to the threat of war as much as any other incentive. “My sense is that it is not sanctions and the U.N. but rather China’s fear that the North Korea situation is spiraling out of control that is leading Beijing to take these steps,” he said. “The last thing China wants is a war on its border that, at a minimum, could remove a key buffer between it and an American ally and at a maximum could result in a thermonuclear war right next door.” Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican and a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, said the administration’s sanctions “are aimed squarely at North Korea’s despot but also remind China that it has a strong interest in preventing a nuclear arms race in Asia.”

Those are but a few of the things that China is worried about.  They don’t want to see a reunified Korea….under southern rule.  They don’t want an American ally that border’s China.  They also don’t don’t want to deal with the thousands and thousands of North Korean refugees flooding their border if a military (even conventional) war breaks out.  China like order; not chaos.  That would be more chaos than they’d care to deal with.  Those are just a few of the incentives they have to work with Trump.  And it wasn’t that hard, really.  It just took a little leadership from someone who isn’t afraid to upset the apple cart.  Trump isn’t a natural politician.  He is just someone who wants to see result; to see progress.  And, he doesn’t take no for an answer.  Nor does he care whose tender feelings he hurts.  In other words, he’s a business-man, and a leader.  Imagine that!

US Navy to use Xbox controllers on highly sophisticated submarines

Virginia-class submarines, equipped with some of the U.S. Navy’s most highly advanced and sophisticated technology, will soon use Microsoft Xbox 360 controllers to operate the periscope. Unlike the traditional rotating tube periscope, these submarines use photonic masts that display the images on screens, so multiple Navy personnel can view at once. But the problem with the photonic masts is that they’re controlled by a complex joystick, which junior officers and sailors described as “clunky” and “real heavy,” Lt. j.g. Kyle Leonard, the USS John Warner’s assistant weapons officer, told the Virginian-Pilot. In addition, the current system used to operate the photonic mast and imaging panels costs about $38,000, the newspaper reported. The idea of using an Xbox controller stemmed from a collaboration effort between Lockheed Martin and Navy officials looking for a less expensive solution, and a way to incorporate everyday technology. “That joystick is by no means cheap, and it is only designed to fit on a Virginia-class submarine,” Senior Chief Mark Eichenlaub, the USS John Warner’s assistant navigator, told the Virginian-Pilot. “I can go to any video game store and procure an Xbox controller anywhere in the world, so it makes a very easy replacement.”

How great is this?!?  To read more, click on the text above.     🙂

Robots could overpower humans thanks to new ‘artificial muscle’

Robots could soon be 15 times as strong as humans thanks to a new artificial muscle. Scientists used a 3D printing technique to create the rubber-like synthetic muscle that could lead to the creation of machines which “make the Terminator look puny.” The material was capable of expanding to nine times its normal size when heated. In tests it demonstrated enormous strength, having a strain density – the amount of energy stored in each gram of a stretched elastic body – 15 times greater than natural muscle. The device, described as a “soft actuator,” was able to lift 1,000 times its own weight, said the researchers whose work is reported in the journal Nature Communications. Professor Hod Lipson, from the Creative Machines laboratory at Columbia University in New York, said: “We’ve been making great strides toward making robot minds, but robot bodies are still primitive. “This is a big piece of the puzzle and, like biology, the new actuator can be shaped and reshaped a thousand ways. We’ve overcome one of the final barriers to making lifelike robots.” As a champion body builder, Schwarzenegger was famous for his muscles before making his name in Hollywood and starring as a homicidal android in the Terminator movies. Artificial muscles may not only suit killer robots but also sensitive surgical devices and a host of other applications where gripping and manipulation is important. Co-author Dr Aslan Miriyev, also from the Creative Machines lab, said: “Our soft functional material may serve as robust soft muscle, possibly revolutionizing the way that soft robotic solutions are engineered today. “It can push, pull, bend, twist, and lift weight. It’s the closest artificial material equivalent we have to a natural muscle.” The long-term aim is to accelerate the artificial muscle’s response time and link it to an artificially intelligent (AI) control system, said the researchers, who were part-funded by the Israeli defense ministry.

“Rise of the Machines”…indeed..

iOS 11 will make it impossible for cops to force you to unlock your phone

The rollout of iOS 11 is fast approaching, and with the beta version of the new update already in the hands of many testers we were bound to discover things that Apple had kept secret. One of those things happens to be an absolutely incredible privacy feature that lets you automatically disable Touch ID in just a few seconds, securing your device and preventing anyone (including law enforcement) from forcing you to access your iPhone by using your fingerprint. The new feature is activated by pressing the lock button five times in a row. When you do this, the phone enters an emergency mode that brings up a second screen with the SOS button that, if toggled, alerts your emergency contacts to your location. What it also does, regardless of whether you tap the SOS button, is lock down your device and disable Touch ID until you verify your identity with your passcode. With plenty of controversy surrounding the rights of citizens and the legal implications of police forcing individuals to unlock their phones with their fingerprints — or even using a person’s prints against their will — it’s an extremely powerful feature. Apple hasn’t spent any time talking about the new privacy tool, but with iOS 11 expected to hit iOS devices sometime in September, it’ll be available to millions and millions of people in just a few weeks. Apple has proven to be extremely bold when it comes to user privacy, refusing to unlock iPhones of suspected criminals due to the precedent it could set for the future. An easy way to disable Touch ID definitely fits with that theme, and it’ll be interesting to see how (or if) law enforcement agencies react.

Total solar eclipse 2017: 6 best apps for the big event

On August 21, 2017, North America will be in the direct path of a total solar eclipse, which happens when the Moon completely covers the Sun. In the U.S., the path of the total eclipse will extend from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. If you’re not in the relatively narrow 70-mile-wide path of totality, you will see a partial solar eclipse. Click here to see a few of the top apps that allow you to prepare for and follow the eclipse.

iPhone audio trick goes viral

Social media users are going crazy about a little known iTunes trick that can let you jack up the volume on your audio. It involves changing the equalisation setting while playing audio on your device. In sound recording and reproduction, equalisation is the process commonly used to alter the frequency response of an audio system using filters. On your iPhone the EQ setting is set to ‘off’ by default. However you have the option to change it to a whole raft of different settings such as Bass Reducer, Flat, Vocal Booster or Late Night — if you want to get a little more oomph from quieter parts in music or movies.

Very cool!!  To read the rest of this informative article, click on the text above.    🙂