Power Pioneer Invents New Battery That's 90% Cheaper Than Lithium-Ion

hardware - Posted On:2020-07-09 23:44:58 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Lithium-ion batteries play a central role in the world of technology, powering everything from smartphones to smart cars, and one of the people who helped commercialize them says he has a way to cut mass production costs by 90% and significantly improve their safety. Hideaki Horie, formerly of Nissan Motor Co., founded Tokyo-based APB Corp. in 2018 to make "all-polymer batteries" -- hence the company name. The making of a cell, every battery's basic unit, is a complicated process requiring cleanroom conditions -- with airlocks to control moisture, constant air filtering and exacting precision to prevent contamination of highly reactive materials. The setup can be so expensive that a handful of top players like South Korea's LG Chem Ltd., China's CATL and Japan's Panasonic Corp. spend billions of dollars to build a suitable factory. Horie's innovation is to replace the battery's basic components -- metal-lined electrodes and liquid electrolytes -- with a resin construction. He says this approach dramatically simplifies and speeds up manufacturing, making it as easy as "buttering toast." It allows for 10-meter-long battery sheets that can be stacked on top of each other "like seat cushions" to increase capacity, he said. Importantly, the resin-based batteries are also resistant to catching fire when punctured. In March, APB raised $74 million, which is tiny by the wider industry's standards but will be enough to fully equip one factory for mass production slated to start next year. Horie estimates the funds will get his plant in central Japan to 1 gigawatt-hour capacity by 2023. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Amazon Will Pay $135,000 To Settle Alleged US Sanction Violations

news - Posted On:2020-07-09 22:44:58 Source: slashdot

In a statement (PDF) issued this week, the U.S. Treasury Department notes that Amazon has agreed to pay $134,523 to settle potential liability over alleged sanctions violations. TechCrunch reports: The charges specifically pertain to goods and services sent to people located in Crimea, Iran and Syria, which are covered by Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions, between November 2011 and October 2018. The Treasury Department also states that the retail giant failed to report "several hundred" transactions in a timely manner. The department adds: "Amazon also accepted and processed orders on its websites for persons located in or employed by the foreign missions of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. Additionally, Amazon accepted and processed orders from persons listed on OFAC's List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (the "SDN List") who were blocked pursuant to the Narcotics Trafficking Sanctions Regulations, the Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators Sanctions Regulations, the Transnational Criminal Organizations Sanctions Regulations, the Democratic Republic of the Congo Sanctions Regulations, the Venezuela Sanctions Regulations, the Zimbabwe Sanctions Regulations, the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations, and the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Sanctions Regulations." The department doesn't believe there was anything malicious going on, rather an issue with Amazon's system, which failed to flag shipments to sanctioned areas. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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More Pre-Installed Malware Has Been Found In Budget US Smartphones

it - Posted On:2020-07-09 21:59:59 Source: slashdot

Pre-installed malware has been discovered on another budget handset connected to Assurance Wireless by Virgin Mobile. ZDNet reports: Back in January, cybersecurity researchers from Malwarebytes discovered unremovable malware bundled with the Android operating systems on the Unimax (UMX) U686CL, a low-end handset sold by Assurance Wireless as part of the Lifeline Assistance program, a 1985 U.S. initiative which subsidizes telephone services for low-income families. There was no way to remove a pair of apps on the handsets which would install other software on the devices without the user's knowledge. Now, Malwarebytes has uncovered another budget handset with similar security issues. The smartphone in question is the ANS (American Network Solutions) UL40, running Android OS 7.1.1. [...] In the same way as the UMX U686CL, two apps -- a settings app and wireless update app -- are compromised. However, these apps are not infected with the same malware variants; instead, Collier says the "infections are similar but have their own unique infection characteristics." The Settings app is detected as Downloader Wotby, a Trojan that is able to download apps externally. The researchers did not find any evidence of malicious apps in a third-party store linked to the software but noted this doesn't mean that malicious apps could not be added or find their way into the store at a later date. The WirelessUpdate app is considered a Potentially Unwanted Program (PUP) that is also able to automatically install apps without user permission or knowledge. While the app does function as an over-the-air updater for security fixes and as an updater to the operating system itself, the software also installs four variants of HiddenAds, a Trojan family found on Android handsets. Thankfully, Malwarebytes has instructions on how to stop HiddenAds infections. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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TikTok Mulls Changes to Business to Distance Itself From China

news - Posted On:2020-07-09 21:14:59 Source: slashdot

Bytedance said it's evaluating changes to the corporate structure of its TikTok business as U.S. concerns grow over the parent company's Chinese origins. Bloomberg reports: Executives are discussing options such as creating a new management board for TikTok and establishing a separate headquarters for the app outside of China to distance its operations from Beijing, according to a person familiar with the discussions. Short-video and music app TikTok currently doesn't have its own headquarters separate from Bytedance, which was founded in China and is incorporated in the Cayman Islands. TikTok is considering a number of locations for a global base, the person familiar with the plans said, asking not to be named discussing information that's not public. Its five largest offices are in Los Angeles, New York, London, Dublin and Singapore. "We will move forward in the best interest of our users, employees, artists, creators, partners, and policy makers," TikTok said in a statement. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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xMEMS Announces World's First Monolithic MEMS Speaker

technology - Posted On:2020-07-09 20:44:58 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from AnandTech: In the last few years, semiconductor manufacturing has become more prevalent and accessible, with MEMS (Microelectromechanical systems) technology now having advanced to a point that we can design speakers with characteristics that are fundamentally different from traditional dynamic drivers or balanced armature units. xMEMS' "Montara" design promises to be precisely such an alternative. xMEMS is a new start-up, founded in 2017 with headquarters in Santa Clara, CA and with a branch office in Taiwan. To date the company had been in stealth mode, not having publicly released any product till today. The company's motivations are said to be breaking decades old speaker technology barriers and reinventing sound with new innovative pure silicon solutions, using extensive experience that its founders have collected over years at different MEMS design houses. The manufacturing of xMEMS' pure silicon speaker is very different to that of a conventional speaker. As the speaker is essentially just one monolithic piece manufactured via your typical lithography manufacturing process, much like how other silicon chips are designed. Due to this monolithic design aspect, the manufacturing line has significantly less complexity versus voice coil designs which have a plethora of components that need to be precision assembled -- a task that is quoted to require thousands of factory workers. The company didn't want to disclose the actual process node of the design, but expect something quite crude in the micron range -- they only confirmed that it was a 200mm wafer technology. Besides the simplification of the manufacturing line, the MEMS speaker features higher consistency membrane movement which allows higher responsiveness and lower THD for activate noise cancellation, compared to a more variable voice coil design. The speaker's frequency response covers the full range from 10Hz to up to 20KHz, and the design is said to be able to compete with planar magnetic designs, promising to have only 0.5% THD at 200Hz -- 20KHz. "As these speakers are capacitive piezo-driven versus current driven, they are able to cut power consumption to fractions of that of a typical voice coil driver, only using up 42uW of power," adds AnandTech. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Indian Army Personnel Banned From Using 89 Apps

technology - Posted On:2020-07-09 20:14:58 Source: slashdot

schwit1 writes: Indian troops will not be allowed to use some of the world's most well-known applications. The move goes further than for civilians when the government banned 59 apps, including TikTok, from general use. According to India Today, the Indian Army on Wednesday asked its personnel to delete 89 apps from their phones, including apps such as Facebook, Truecaller, Instagram and games like PUBG. "The latest instruction comes as a bid to plug leakage of sensitive national security information from phones of armed forces personnel," the report says. "The Army has set July 15 as the deadline for the security forces personnel to remove the 89 apps from their phones." Apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, and YouTube are O.K. as long as the personnel don't reveal their army background on the platforms. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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How to import and backup saved passwords in Google Chrome

Security - Posted On:2020-07-09 19:59:59 Source: bleepingcomputer

​Google Chrome Password Manager lets you save usernames and passwords and automatically use them to log in to websites you visit. If you ever decide to switch from or to Google Chrome and want to take your saved passwords with you, this guide will help you. [...]

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Android 10 has the fastest update rate ever, hits 16% of users in 10 months

Tech - Posted On:2020-07-09 19:44:59 Source: arstechnica

Google today dropped a blog post detailing its progress on improving the Android ecosystem's update speed. The company has been hard at work for the past few years modularizing Android, with the hope that making Android easier to update would result in device manufacturers pushing out updates faster. Google's efforts have been paying off, with the company announcing Android 10 has had the fastest rollout ever.

The last few versions of Android have each brought a major improvement to Android's update system. Android 8 introduced Project Treble, which separated the OS from the hardware support, enabling easier porting of Android across devices. In Android 9 Pie, Google completed its work on Treble and started publishing Generic System Images (GSIs): drop-in versions of Android that work on any Project Treble-compatible device. Android 10 introduced Project Mainline and the new APEX file type designed for updatable lower-level system components, delivered through the Play Store.

Google's stats show that all this work is actually improving the ecosystem. "Thanks to these efforts," Google writes, "the adoption of Android 10 has been faster than any previous versions of Android. Android 10 was running on 100 million devices 5 months post launch—28% faster than Android Pie."

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Apple's ARM-Based Macs To Support Thunderbolt

hardware - Posted On:2020-07-09 19:29:59 Source: slashdot

tlhIngan writes: For those worried that the transition Apple is doing to ARM-based Macs will drop Thunderbolt, Apple has stated that they will continue to support Thunderbolt. This was a worry since Thunderbolt is primarily an Intel design (formerly known as Light Peak) with Apple collaboration, and that none of Apple's ARM based devices support it (not even the ARM Developer Transition Kit). Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Conti ransomware shows signs of being Ryuk's successor

Security - Posted On:2020-07-09 18:59:59 Source: bleepingcomputer

The Conti Ransomware is an upcoming threat targeting corporate networks with new features that allow it to perform quicker and more targeted attacks. There are also indications that this ransomware shares the same malware code as Ryuk, who has slowly been fading away, while Conti's distribution is increasing. [...]

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Portland Approves 10% Cap On Fees That Food Delivery Apps Can Charge Restuarants

news - Posted On:2020-07-09 18:44:59 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Oregon Live: The Portland City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to make it illegal for third-party food delivery services like DoorDash and Grubhub to collect more than 10% in commission fees from city restaurants amid the coronavirus pandemic. Portland joins other cities, including Seattle, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, that have instituted similar caps in recent months. Those cities have limits at 15%. New Jersey last week put a 10% service fee cap that applies to all restaurants in the state. Food delivery company fees can be as high as 30%. The new rule also makes it illegal for DoorDash, Uber Eats and other companies to decrease payments to delivery workers in order to make up lost money from restaurant fees, the ordinance said. The city council approved an amendment to the order Wednesday to also include a 5% limit if the delivery service allows a restaurant to transport their own food or if a customer orders through the app and picks up their items at the business. The restrictions would end 90 days after Portland's state of emergency order lifts. No date has been set to lift the order, which has been in place since March 12. Delivery app companies would be liable for up to $500 in civil penalties if the order is violated and the fine would accrue every day and for every restaurant overcharged. The restaurant would have to sue the company involved if they aren't given refunds. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Unreal’s new iPhone app does live motion capture with Face ID sensors

Gaming & Culture - Posted On:2020-07-09 18:30:00 Source: arstechnica

Unreal Engine developer Epic Games has released Live Link Face, an iPhone app that uses the front-facing 3D sensors in the phone to do live motion capture for facial animations in 3D projects like video games, animations, or films.

The app uses tools from Apple's ARKit framework and the iPhone's TrueDepth sensor array to stream live motion capture from an actor looking at the phone to 3D characters in Unreal Engine running on a nearby workstation. It captures facial expressions as well as head and neck rotation.

Live Link Face can stream to multiple machines at once, and "robust timecode support and precise frame accuracy enable seamless synchronization with other stage components like cameras and body motion capture," according to Epic's blog post announcing the app. Users get a CSV of raw blendshape data and an MOV from the phone's front-facing video camera, with timecodes.

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Daily Crunch: Apple releases public beta of iOS 14

Mobile - Posted On:2020-07-09 18:15:00 Source: techcrunch

A beta version of Apple’s latest mobile operating system is available to the public, Coinbase may go public and researchers discover a frightening smartwatch vulnerability. Here’s your Daily Crunch for July 9, 2020. The big story: Apple releases public beta of iOS 14 Developers are no longer the only ones who can try out the […]

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AI Researchers Create Testing Tool To Find Bugs in NLP From Amazon, Google, and Microsoft

it - Posted On:2020-07-09 18:14:59 Source: slashdot

AI researchers have created a language-model testing tool that discovers major bugs in commercially available cloud AI offerings from Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. Yesterday, a paper detailing the CheckList tool received the Best Paper award from organizers of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL) conference. From a report: NLP models today are often evaluated based on how they perform on a series of individual tasks, such as answering questions using benchmark data sets with leaderboards like GLUE. CheckList instead takes a task-agnostic approach, allowing people to create tests that fill in cells in a spreadsheet-like matrix with capabilities (in rows) and test types (in columns), along with visualizations and other resources. Analysis with CheckList found that about one in four sentiment analysis predictions by Amazon's Comprehend change when a random shortened URL or Twitter handle is placed in text, and Google Cloud's Natural Language and Amazon's Comprehend makes mistakes when the names of people or locations are changed in text. "The [sentiment analysis] failure rate is near 100% for all commercial models when the negation comes at the end of the sentence (e.g. 'I thought the plane would be awful, but it wasn't'), or with neutral content between the negation and the sentiment-laden word," the paper reads. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Chrome and Firefox Are Getting Support For the New AVIF Image Format

news - Posted On:2020-07-09 17:29:59 Source: slashdot

The new lightweight and royalty-free AVIF image format is coming to web browsers. Work is almost complete on adding AVIF support to Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. From a report: The new image format is considered one of the lightest and most optimized image compression formats, and has already gained praise from companies such as Netflix, which considers it superior to existing image formats such as JPEG, PNG, and even the newer WebP. The acronym of AVIF stands for AV1 Image File Format. As its name hints, AVIF is based on AV1, which is a video codec that was developed in 2015, following a collaboration between Google, Cisco, and Xiph.org (who also worked with Mozilla). At the time, the three decided to pool their respective in-house video codecs (VPX, Thor, and Daala) to create a new one (AV1) that they planned to offer as an open-source and royalty-free alternative to all the commercial video codecs that had fragmented and clogged the video streaming market in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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TikTok Traders Are Pumping Joke Cryptocurrency Dogecoin -- and the Price is Up 95%

news - Posted On:2020-07-09 16:59:59 Source: slashdot

Day traders on viral video app TikTok are encouraging people to speculate on a joke cryptocurrency called Dogecoin. Based on an old Internet meme -- an overly sincere and whimsically grammar-challenged Shiba Inu dog -- the digital coin was developed as a Bitcoin-spinoff in 2013, after which it quickly rose to prominence as a gag. From a report: The shenanigans of the cryptocurrency-pumpers appear to be working, at least for now. The price of Dogecoin has nearly doubled since July 6th, rising 95% to $0.00448 from $0.0023, according to data from OnChainFX, a cryptocurrency data tracker. The price of Dogecoin peaked in January 2018 at $0.013 before promptly crashing. It appears a flood of stuck-at-home market hypers is behind the push to hype the cryptocurrency. "Go invest in Dogecoin, make me rich," wrote one pumper. "They cant stop us all," encouraged another. Yet one more: "worth it. i swear #stocks #coins #dogecoin #money" Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Google Campus Security Singled Out Black, Latinx Employees

technology - Posted On:2020-07-09 16:30:00 Source: slashdot

Google's campus security system subjected Black and Latinx workers to bias and prompted complaints to management, Bloomberg News reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the situation, leading the company to scrap a key part of the approach. From a report: The internet giant encouraged employees to check colleagues' ID badges on campus, and asked security staff to do the same. This went beyond the typical corporate office system where workers swipe badges to enter. The policy was designed to prevent unauthorized visitors and keep Google's open work areas safe. But some staffers told management that Black and Latinx workers had their badges checked more often than other employees, according to the people, who experienced this themselves or saw friends and colleagues go through it. As a result, these employees felt policed on campus in a similar way that they are under suspicion elsewhere in life, said the people, who weren't authorized to speak publicly about the issue. It's an example of the unconscious, or overlooked, biases that make working in Silicon Valley harder for minorities, the people added. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Australia, UK Open Probe Into Clearview Over Data Privacy

news - Posted On:2020-07-09 15:30:00 Source: slashdot

Australian and British privacy regulators opened a joint probe into Clearview AI, saying they want to examine how the company's facial-recognition technology uses people's data, just days after the company suspended operations in Canada. From a report: The Australian Information Commissioner and the U.K. Information Commissioner's Office said they will focus on the company's use of "scraped" data and biometrics of individuals. Clearview is facing growing scrutiny of the billions of images it has scraped from social media platforms and how the New York-based company shares those with law enforcement agencies. It suspended a contract with its last Canadian client, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, after regulators there said they were investigating allegations Clearview collected personal information without consent and shared it with police. Clearview will cooperate with the U.K. and Australian regulators, Chief Executive Officer Hoan Ton-That said in a statement. The company searches publicly available photos from the Internet in accordance with applicable laws, he said. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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The best Wi-Fi 6 home networking tech to upgrade your setup

Gadgets - Posted On:2020-07-09 15:15:01 Source: techcrunch

Wi-Fi 6 is here – making its way to more and more devices, with a noteworthy inclusion on last year’s flagship iPhone 11 lineup. This next-generation Wi-Fi technology provides faster speeds for transferring data between devices, but more importantly, it also means your system will be better equipped to handle multiple Wi-Fi devices connected at […]

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Valve secrets spill over—including Half-Life 3—in new Steam documentary app

Gaming & Culture - Posted On:2020-07-09 15:15:00 Source: arstechnica

The Final Hours of Half-Life: Alyx is now live on Steam as a $10 download, and it's a phenomenal look at the underbelly of Valve video game development, told with a wealth of inside access and a host of multimedia goodies.

The project, as led by journalist Geoff Keighley, is a years-in-the-making look at Valve's journey to release a new Half-Life game, complete with stories about other attempts that never got off the ground. Separated into 12 "chapters," the app is predominately driven by Keighley's text, full of interviews and quotes, and every page comes with embedded image galleries and pictures to drive each point home.

The app's biggest dirt, arguably, is its confirmation of exactly what started and stopped within Valve on the way to getting Half-Life: Alyx out the door this March. That includes Half-Life 3—and it is a much firmer account of Valve's history than what IGN reported earlier this year.

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