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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 25th Apr 2016

In the world of glorious accidents this could well prove to be the greatest,

Scientists who were messing around with a gel have accidentally worked out a way to make batteries last forever.

The researchers at the University of California at Irvine realised that by coating a brittle component in batteries in a shell they can be recharged (or cycled) hundreds of thousands of times and not lose any power.

The components – nanowires – don’t usually deal well with charging in a typical lithium battery and usually wear out after 7,000 cycles or so.

But with a manganese dioxide shell they lost no power despite being cycled more than 200,000 times in three months.
This could lead to laptop, phone and tablet batteries that last forever. It might also benefit commercial batteries in cars and spacecraft.

The person to thank for the breakthrough, is Mya Le Thai, a PHD student at the university.

Reginald Penner, chairman of UCI’s chemistry department, said she was ‘playing around’ when she coated the wires in the thin gel layer.

He told The Inquirer: ‘She discovered that just by using this gel she could cycle it hundreds of thousands of times without losing any capacity.

‘That was crazy, because these things typically die in dramatic fashion after 5,000 or 6,000 or 7,000 cycles at most.’
Mya said the coat helped the nanowire electrode hold its shape much better, therefore making it more relaible.
She added: ‘This research proves that a nanowire-based battery electrode can have a long lifetime and that we can make these kinds of batteries a reality.’

Source: metro.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 25th Apr 2016

Have you ever considered getting involved in competitive tooth brushing – against yourself?

No, we’re not making this up. A new app has been released that analyses how you brush your teeth and sets you challenges against yourself.
According to its developers in Japan, the G.U.M PLAY app will turn ‘the usual three minutes of brushing into an exhilarating three minutes of discovery’.

All you have to do is attach the G.U.M device to the end of your toothbrush and away we go.

This ridiculous app means brushing your teeth will never be the same

The small device will monitor your brushstrokes, and send data to your phone or tablet app using Bluetooth.

You can then choose one of three options: ‘Mouth Monster’ (oh, behave) where you ‘play a game to defeat oral bacteria’; ‘Mouth Band’, where you ‘make music as you brush’; and ‘Mouth News’, to ‘listen to news as you brush’.

This ridiculous app means brushing your teeth will never be the same

All of the data from your brushing is then recorded in a Mouth Log – so you can see how long you brushed for, and which parts of your mouth you might be neglecting.

You can buy it for 5,000 Yen, which is around £35.

Source: metro.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 25th Apr 2016

If you regularly send WhatsApp or Facebook messages while at work, this might be worth reading.

UK employees are sending up to 100 private messages every day without realising that their employers might be monitoring their content.

The tech career site Dice has released new research which indicates that employees in British companies are sending large volumes of private messages including applications and inquiries relating to other jobs.

Just under 70 per cent of workers in the UK admit to using email, text, WhatsApp, Facebook and other platforms for personal use during work hours, but research shows a large proportion are unaware of the regulations when it comes to the monitoring of private messages.

Almost half had no idea that their employer may be entitled to monitor the content of the messages they send on company devices. The rule came in this year after an employee was fired for messaging his fiancée on Yahoo Messenger while at work.
The research shows it isn’t just the fact that employees are sending private messages that could be problematic, it’s the indiscretion they show in what they discuss too. Forty per cent have communicated with a new or potentially new employer from work, nine per cent have discussed personal matters about their relationship or flirted with a co-worker and 31 per cent have spent their time shopping.

So be careful.

Source: metro.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 19th Apr 2016

TORONTO (Reuters) - Tech companies should comply with lawful requests to access protected data, BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen said on Monday, in thinly veiled criticism of rival Apple for its recent standoff with the FBI.

Chen made the comment in a blog posting after reports by Vice and Motherboard last week that threw a spotlight on a 2014 case in which Canadian law enforcement authorities used intercepted messages between some BlackBerry devices to unravel an organized crime network.

The devices were consumer phones that were not protected by BlackBerry's BES server, which helps secure any devices running within corporate networks.

"We have long been clear in our stance that tech companies as good corporate citizens should comply with reasonable lawful access requests," said Chen in the post.

"We are indeed in a dark place when companies put their reputations above the greater good," said Chen, who is known to not shy away from publicly sparring with rivals.

Chen, who maintains the BES is "impenetrable" and that only BlackBerry's clients can grant access to messages secured by it, has weighed in on the lawful access topic a number of times in the last few months, including in another blog last December.

He also commented on the topic at a media roundtable earlier this month, when asked to comment about BlackBerry's security capabilities in light of the FBI's hacking of an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. Apple had declined to help authorities unlock the encrypted device.

"Not that we can crack every phone, but from the standpoint of BlackBerry's philosophy, policy, and principles, we will help whenever there is a formal subpoena that comes to us and we have been doing it for many, many, years," said Chen.

"But since we don't have a backdoor and since the encryption technology has now gotten to a point where we may, or may not be able to penetrate it, we will have the same difficulties, but we won't have the same attitude about it and it won't be front page news."

"Of course we are not Apple, so it may or may not make front page news either," added Chen with a coy smile.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 19th Apr 2016

Construction giant Dewalt has entered the smartphone market with a tough Android-powered handset designed for building industry workers.

The £379 ($544) device is designed to survive a 2m drop on to concrete and can operate in temperatures ranging from -20C to 60C.

Rival firm Caterpillar has already established itself as a brand in the physically tougher smartphone sector.

The so-called "tough phone" market is flourishing, a retailer told the BBC.

"Lots of people in the trade and construction industries, as well as outdoor sports enthusiasts, have realised that just having a thicker case isn't going to see them through," said James Booker, purchasing manager at UK firm Tuffphones.

Caterpillar's latest model features a thermal imaging camera

To be be certified as a "tough phone", handsets have to undergo more rigorous physical tests, including being subjected to tumbling - turned over and over inside a device for long periods of time, Mr Booker explained.

They also have to be water and dust proof.

Because they are sturdier, they can also incorporate a bigger battery, he added - the Dewalt phone claims to offer up to eight hours of talk time.

"One of the main things about traditional smartphones is that they are svelte and slim - there's an obvious correlation with how large a battery they can get in there," Mr Booker said.

While most of its specifications are fairly standard for the sector, Dewalt's MD501 phone comes with in-built QI wireless charging, which is unusual, he added.

Its touchscreen is made of commercially manufactured Gorilla Glass - a highly robust but thin type of glass that works with gloved hands.

The handset is a collaboration with Global Mobile Communications, a rugged phone specialist.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 19th Apr 2016

The UK steel industry is doomed unless it embraces cutting-edge technology, a Cambridge professor has warned.

Prof Julian Allwood said the only way to save steel jobs was to make high-value products for industries in which the UK leads the world.

New methods could scrub impurities from recycled steel to make products for the aerospace and car industries, he said.
It comes as efforts are being made to save thousands of jobs at Tata Steel's Port Talbot steel plant in south Wales.
The announcement by the Indian company that it is to sell its UK business is the latest blow to an industry which has seen a succession of job cuts.

New steel

Prof Allwood said current plans for the steel industry did not go far enough, because they did not utilise the latest technology.
In his six-year study on the steel sector, the predicament of the industry appears stark.

"The global steel industry today has more capacity for making steel from iron ore than it will ever need again," he said.
"On average, products made with steel last 35 to 40 years, and around 90% of all used steel is collected. This is easy because it's magnetic.

"The supply of steel collected from goods at the end of their life therefore lags the supply of new steel by about 40 years."

UK steel crisis

Prof Allwood said the steel market would continue to grow - but all future demand growth could be met by recycling the existing stock of steel.

And it was, therefore, futile for the UK to attempt to compete against low-wage economies for mass market steel.
Reducing industrial electricity costs in Britain would help, but only a little, he said, and the UK should instead concentrate on recycled steel.

That is what is proposed by Sanjeev Gupta, the entrepreneur who has expressed interest in turning the Port Talbot works into a recycling plant.

But Prof Allwood said that plan did not go far enough, because most scrap metal contained impurities that made it suitable for only low-value products, such as steel reinforcing bars, which were subject to heavy international competition.

It would be far better, he said, to harness science to make pure hi-tech steel that met the needs of the UK's leading industries.

"UK taxpayers will have to bear costs of Tata Steel's decision to close the Port Talbot plant," he said.
"If the existing operations are to be sold, taxpayers must subsidise the purchase without the guarantee of a long-term national gain.

"If the plants are closed, the loss of jobs, income and livelihoods will reverberate throughout the UK steel supply chain.

"Instead, the strategy presented here enables taxpayers to invest in a long-term structural transformation.

"This would allow UK innovation ahead of any other large player."

'Common sense'

While many will applaud his analysis, some will ask how this theoretical model can be translated into real equipment and jobs - especially as the UK does not have an industrial strategy that would encourage this sort of thing.

Prof Allwood pointed towards the Danish wind industry as an example of successful government strategy to create jobs with a new product.

The steel transformation in the UK could be funded by a long-term loan from the government, which will have to bear the costs one way or another.

It would involve many of the current jobs being saved, but workers would need to retrain.

Prof Allwood said the hi-tech transformation had not happened yet because low margins in the European steel industry had squeezed investment - and China did not have the stock of old steel to make it relevant yet.

He said it might take three to five years to develop the technologies needed to transform the industry.

It would be estimated to cost £1-2bn, which he said was good value compared with the social costs of shutting the industry.

Dr Sarah Green, a metallurgist from Lancaster University, said: "It's common sense to maximise recycling efficacy in the UK steel materials cycle.

"Whether this alone will generate sufficient economic activity on a suitable timescale to offer a substitute for the current steelmaking sector is something that I am less certain of."

Denmark's wind turbine industry has created hundreds of jobs

Gareth Stace, of UK Steel, told BBC News: "We don't agree that there won't be a new need for virgin steel - we think we need more capacity.

"But we welcome this report - especially the recognition that the steel sector has been starved of investment in technology because of the crisis we have been in for years.

"There are steelmakers in the UK that make world class steel, but we are desperate for more investment."

Another expert also called for more research.

"The task is getting harder at the moment because impurities from copper get greater the more wiring there is in cars," said Prof Sridhar Seetharaman, chair in low carbon materials technology at the University of Warwick.

"Britain could lead the way by government supporting funding in this."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 19th Apr 2016

The US Supreme Court has ruled in favour of Google in its 11-year legal battle with an authors group.

The Court said it would not hear an appeal from the Authors Guild, which claimed Google breached copyright laws by scanning books without permission.

he technology giant began the process in 2004, so it could include extracts in a searchable database, and it was sued by the Authors Guild in 2005.

The Supreme Court's judgement is the final ruling on the matter.

Fair use

Google's database of books lets people search through millions of titles and read passages and selected pages from them.
While some of the books in the database are old titles that are no longer protected by copyright, millions are more recent publications.

The Authors Guild had argued that the project undermined authors' ability to make money from their work.
Google said its database was a "fair use" of protected works, describing it as "a card catalogue for the digital age".

The firm could have faced billions of dollars in damages claims from authors if it had lost the case.

The Authors Guild said it was "disappointed" that the Supreme Court would not hear its appeal.

The organisation's president Roxana Robinson said: "We believed then and we believe now that authors should be compensated when their work is copied for commercial purposes".

A Google spokeswoman said: "We are grateful that the court has agreed to uphold the decision of the Second Circuit which concluded that Google Books is transformative and consistent with copyright law."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 18th Apr 2016

There are few things more frustrating at the cinema than someone who refuses to put their phone away during the movie.
But it might be about to become a far more common occurrence: The CEO of what will soon be the world's biggest cinema chain says he plans to let people use their smartphones during screenings.

Adam Aron is CEO of AMC Entertainment, a movie theatre chain that is preparing to acquire rival Carmike in a deal that will make it the largest movie-theater operator in the world.

In an interview with Variety published Wednesday, Aron said his company is looking into new ways to attract millennials into its theatres — and that includes letting them text during screenings.

"When you tell a 22-year-old to turn off the phone, don’t ruin the movie, they hear please cut off your left arm above the elbow," he said. "You can’t tell a 22-year-old to turn off their cellphone. That’s not how they live their life."

The CEO does recognise the frustration that the change is likely to cause many cinema-goers. "We’re going to have to figure out a way to do it that doesn’t disturb today’s audiences. There’s a reason there are ads up there saying turn off your phone, because today’s moviegoer doesn’t want somebody sitting next to them texting or having their phone on."

How? One option is is special texting sections, or certain screens where texting is explicitly allowed. "[Texting sections are] one possibility. What may be more likely is we take specific auditoriums and make them more texting friendly."

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 18th Apr 2016

A British Airways jetliner may have been hit by a drone Sunday as it approached London’s Heathrow airport, highlighting growing concern about the potential hazard posed by unmanned aircraft.

Flight 727’s pilot reported at about 12:50 p.m. local time that he believed a drone had struck the front of his Airbus A320 from Geneva, according to a statement from the London Metropolitan Police. There were no injuries among the 132 passengers and five crew members, and police are investigating.

“Our aircraft landed safely, was fully examined by our engineers and it was cleared to operate its next flight,” British Airways, a unit of IAG SA, said in a statement. The U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority, which called it “a possible incident with a drone,” said that “it is totally unacceptable to fly drones close to airports and anyone flouting the rules can face severe penalties including imprisonment.”

The incident underlines the growing risks errant drones pose to airlines. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration reported 1,200 incidents last year involving drones, up fivefold from 2014. No collisions were reported, though the incidents included flying too close to passenger airliners and other aircraft. The agency predicts 2.5 million drones will be sold in 2016.

“As far as I’m aware this is the first time a drone has collided with a commercial jet,” said Hans Weber, president of San Diego-based aviation consulting firm Tecop International Inc. “It clearly was illegal where this drone was being flown.”
Regulators have been working for years trying to decide how to regulate drones as the number of recreational aircraft soars, according to John Robbins, assistant professor of aeronautical science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida.

“It’s another paradigm in aviation,” Robbins said. “There’s a need to make users aware they’re not toys.”
The U.K.’s regulations stipulate users must be able to see their drone at all times, not fly it higher than 400 feet (122 meters) and keep away from planes, helicopters, airports and airfields. In the U.S., the FAA requires operators to stay more than five miles from airports unless they get permission from air-traffic controllers.

“There’s a real tug of war between drone users and regulators,” Weber said, citing reports of some hobbyists competing to get as close as they can to jets. “If people kept to those requirements there would be no problem.”

Source: bloomberg.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 18th Apr 2016

Log on to Instagram and chances are at least one of your friends has posted a photo of his or her workout regimes or healthy meals. Maybe you're repulsed and disgusted by it.
Consider that part of the process.

A "first reaction [is] to resent how much their friends are posting sweat selfies and ... drinking their shakes," says Carl Daikeler, CEO of at-home workout company Beach Body.

After all, the constant in-your-face nature of wellness is a sharp detour from how things used to be. It was once easy to ignore the need to have a healthy lifestyle; you could just go about your life without constant reminders that you could be healthy.

"However, it has been easy to completely ignore ... an active lifestyle and food choices that would enhance your life," said Daikeler, whose company introduced iconic programs such as Insanity, P90X, and 21-Day Fix to the world.

"It's been so easy to make that optional because it wasn't in your face [before]. Right?" he said. "You go about your life, you've got to do your job, your kids [are] expecting everything of you, but the one thing that was very easy to skip is exercise, and [it was] very easy to justify grabbing pizza because you worked so hard today and your boss yelled at you and you were under so much pressure that you just need a little gratification."

That's not an option anymore.

"However, the rise of Instagram ... and now, Facebook, and now seeing people like you are fitting it into their day and they're putting in the effort and they're enjoying their life and doing things they never thought they could do," Daikeler said.

That could mean sharing a healthy meal that's diet-friendly or sharing post-workout photos.

Autumn Calabrese, the trainer behind the extremely popular 21-Day Fix, also sees the importance of social media.

"For me, coming from being the trainer, I think that it's huge in the fact that it is all about sharing your success or sharing people's success," Calabrese, who shares clients' results on her own Instagram page, said to Business Insider.

It also serves as a new way to show off results — and perhaps more importantly, the process of getting those results, and the process can be the unfortunate part.

"And you can look though these hashtags and not only see people's results, but see what they're doing to get them," she said. "You can see the meal prepping, you can see them sweaty at the ends of their workouts, you can see them on days [when they're] tired on the floor and [are] like '[I] don't wanna do it' [but still] push play [on the DVD]."

It has helped cultivate fitness communities, too — which is extremely important when people are working out at home, in the absence of a visible community that one might find at a gym or a boutique fitness class.

"Social media has kind of made it easier to come together," she said. "I think that they say, 'misery loves company' and — not that it's miserable to work out and — well, maybe it is for some people — but the fact that they have other people to hold them accountable and to say like, 'great job,' 'did you push play?,' way to get those work outs done!,' and they have other people that they can share those results with and other people cheering them on — it sells the product itself."

Further, Calabrese spoke to a positive business implication of social media. "You don't even have to go out and try to market you just have to go and show what it does ... so I've seen amazing things just through like Facebook and through Instagram and [other social media outlets]," she said.

Marketing that comes directly from the customer is arguably more authentic than a commercial. When women see other women share their own journeys (or when a company shares a photo originally posted by someone), it undeniably can intrigue them to want to try that product, too.

Further, Beach Body isn't the only viral workout sensation to take the Internet by storm.

Other brands have profited off of the Instagram community, as well; Kayla Itsines' Bikini Body Guide program, for instance, has cultivated a massive community that goes so far to call itself Kayla's Army, thanks to highly shareable photos and recognizable hashtags on Instagram. In fact, Itsines has arguably built her empire using impressive before-and-after photos, which zero in on her fans' respective journeys.

As Daikeler said, it's just that much harder to ignore wellness these days — but perhaps it's that much easier to find motivation and inspiration.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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