Three Consequences Of The Transition Taking Place In The Electric Sector

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Our increasingly digital world has raised expectations for speed:

Speed of communication = smartphone (iPhone, Android).

Speed of travel = car sharing (Uber, Lyft).

Speed of information = internet search (Google…well, just Google).

Speed of financial transactions = real-time payment (Venmo, Stripe).

There appear to be few barriers to accelerating the speed of anything to its utmost physical potential using the miracle of 21st-century information technology. For the flow of digital information, if it is not in real time, it might as well arrive by horse and buggy.

This phenomenon took the telecommunications industry by storm during the early part of my career, and the world has never been the same. Real-time, secure communications worldwide is a reality that has fueled the burgeoning digital economy.

A transformation not unlike what I witnessed then is now taking place in the electric power grid. Lest we forget, without the ever-present availability of electricity, the world as we know it does not run. This makes it all the more egregious that it is running on obsolete, 20th-century technology.

An Electric Sector In Transition

The holy convergence of economic competitiveness and consumer demand is driving the exponential growth of renewable energy, with energy storage soon to follow. In 2016, new capacity added to the grid from renewables exceeded that from traditional coal and gas sources for the first time. What is taking place is much more fundamental than just technological substitution. The entire character of the electric grid is changing, from centralized, large-scale generation to a proliferation of smaller-scale, distributed energy resources that are cheaper, more efficient and much faster to deploy. In concert, the energy regulatory environment is shifting to accommodate the addition of new distributed generation while simultaneously injecting competitive market forces. Similar to the breakup of Ma Bell, dismantling arguably the largest remaining monopoly in the country is stimulating more innovation — and creating challenges — in a “network” business known as the electric power grid.  

Consequences Of This Transition

1. The Dilemma Of Big Data

While these technological and regulatory advances are transforming the business models of utilities and their energy retailer cousins, a challenge looms — big data. Yes, big data equals big problems in an industry that is still running billions of dollars of transactions using Excel spreadsheets.

This energy transition has created exponential growth in data and complexity, which, if left unresolved, will stymy the growth of renewables and distributed resources and keep the electric grid stuck in the 20th century.  

Again, the reason comes back to data — a truck-sized firehose of complex power data that is impossible to make sense of using current information and transactional systems. To put this in perspective, there are more than 12 million backup generators in the U.S. This number dwarfs the number coal-fired generation stations (over 700) operating in the U.S. Just in backup power capable of serving as a distributed asset behind the meter, this represents an exponential increase in data and complexity for the grid.

EU Parliament committee votes for tougher EU copyright rules to rein in tech giants

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Google (GOOGL.O), Facebook (FB.O), Microsoft (MSFT.O) and other tech giants could face more curbs on their market power after a European Parliament committee voted in favor of tougher copyright rules on Wednesday.

The logo of Google is pictured during the Viva Tech start-up and technology summit in Paris, France, May 25, 2018. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

The copyright rules, proposed by the European Commission two years ago, are designed to take account of the growing role of online platforms, forcing them to share revenues with publishers and bear liability for copyright infringement on the internet.

The vote by the Legal Affairs Committee is likely to be the Parliament’s official stance as it heads into negotiations with EU countries on a common position, unless dissenting lawmakers force a vote at the general assembly next month.

While internet luminaries and activists and some lawmakers have criticized the EU reforms, copyright holders have applauded them.

German lawmaker Julia Reda, part of the Greens group in the parliament, opposed the EU proposal and said the measures would break the internet.

“People will run into trouble doing everyday things like discussing the news and expressing themselves online. Locking down our freedom to participate to serve the special interests of large media companies is unacceptable,” she said in a statement.

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“I will challenge this outcome and request a vote in the European Parliament next month,” she said.

Criticism has focused on two articles of the proposed new law. Article 11 or the so-called neighboring right for press publishers could force Google, Microsoft and others to pay publishers for showing news snippets.

Article 13 or mandatory upload filtering would require online platforms such as YouTube, GitHub, Instagram and eBay (EBAY.O) to install filters to prevent users from uploading copyrighted materials or seek licenses to display content.

Lobbying group CCIA, whose members include Google, Facebook, eBay, Amazon (AMZN.O) and Netflix (NFLX.O), criticized lawmakers for ignoring pleas from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, net neutrality expert Tim Wu, internet pioneer Vint Cerf and others.

“We urge all MEPs (members of parliament) to contest this report and to support balanced copyright rules, which respect online rights and support Europe’s digital economy,” CCIA’s Maud Sacquet said.

Raegan MacDonald, head of EU public policy at Mozilla, creator of the Firefox web browser, called it a sad day for the internet in Europe.

“It is especially disappointing that just a few weeks after the entry into force of the GDPR – a law that made Europe a global regulatory standard bearer – parliamentarians have approved a law that will fundamentally damage the internet in Europe, with global ramifications,” she said, referring to Europe’s new data protection law.

Civil Liberties Union for Europe also criticized the committee’s vote.

“MEPs listened to lobbyists and ignored our fundamental rights. We will take this to the plenary and keep fighting for freedom of speech in the EU,” the union’s Eva Simon said.

Publishers cheered the committee’s vote, calling it a victory for fairness and a recognition that rights holders should be rewarded.

“The internet is only as useful as the content that populates it. This publishers’ neighboring right will be key to encouraging further investment in professional, diverse, fact-checked content for the enrichment and enjoyment of everyone, everywhere,” Europe’s news and magazine publishers said.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Adrian Croft

New Discovery Reveals How Your Brain Changes When You Need Sleep

, Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

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</div> </div> <p>In desperate need of a good night’s sleep? If so, you aren’t alone.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5353813/" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5353813/" rel="nofollow">Between 10% to 30% of adults experience insomnia</a>, and for <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5987897/" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5987897/" rel="nofollow">up to 1 in 10 adults, insomnia can become a chronic disorder</a>. Even people who manage to sleep like proverbial logs can end up sleep deprived if <a href="https://theconversation.com/explainer-how-much-sleep-do-we-need-29759" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://theconversation.com/explainer-how-much-sleep-do-we-need-29759" rel="nofollow">sleep is restricted</a> by staying up too late or waking too early.</p> <p>Whatever the cause, sleep deprivation can lead to mild to significant cognitive impairment while we’re awake. We’ve all felt the effects at one point or another. It might just be a case of pouring coffee on your cereal or alighting the wrong train while jet-lagged, but fatigue also causes more serious problems like work and motor vehicle accidents.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5859531/#CR8" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5859531/#CR8" rel="nofollow">A recent study showed</a> that drivers who regularly get less than 6 hours of sleep a night have a 33% higher risk of a car accident than drivers who get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. This was the case even when the drivers didn’t report excessive sleepiness. Studies also show that accruing sleep debt over long periods of time can have a negative impact on mental health.</p> <p> </p> <p>So what is actually changing in the brain the longer we go without sleep? And why does a good sleep make us feel so refreshed?</p> <p>Interestingly, although sleep accounts for around one-third of our lives and plays a substantial role in our health and well-being, we still don’t know all that much about the biochemistry of sleep.</p> <p>From an evolutionary perspective, there must be a really good reason for going offline for hours at a time — snoozing instead of hunting, foraging, or mating — and being quite vulnerable while we do so.</p>

” readability=”38.1463112213″>

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In desperate need of a good night’s sleep? If so, you aren’t alone.

Between 10% to 30% of adults experience insomnia, and for up to 1 in 10 adults, insomnia can become a chronic disorder. Even people who manage to sleep like proverbial logs can end up sleep deprived if sleep is restricted by staying up too late or waking too early.

Whatever the cause, sleep deprivation can lead to mild to significant cognitive impairment while we’re awake. We’ve all felt the effects at one point or another. It might just be a case of pouring coffee on your cereal or alighting the wrong train while jet-lagged, but fatigue also causes more serious problems like work and motor vehicle accidents.

A recent study showed that drivers who regularly get less than 6 hours of sleep a night have a 33% higher risk of a car accident than drivers who get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. This was the case even when the drivers didn’t report excessive sleepiness. Studies also show that accruing sleep debt over long periods of time can have a negative impact on mental health.

So what is actually changing in the brain the longer we go without sleep? And why does a good sleep make us feel so refreshed?

Interestingly, although sleep accounts for around one-third of our lives and plays a substantial role in our health and well-being, we still don’t know all that much about the biochemistry of sleep.

From an evolutionary perspective, there must be a really good reason for going offline for hours at a time — snoozing instead of hunting, foraging, or mating — and being quite vulnerable while we do so.

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The Best Blockchain Jobs And Careers Available Today

, Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock

</div> </div> <p><strong>What is blockchain technology?</strong></p> <p>Although <span><a href="https://www.bernardmarr.com/default.asp?contentID=1389" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.bernardmarr.com/default.asp?contentID=1389" rel="nofollow">blockchain</a></span> technology was first developed to use with the cryptocurrency bitcoin in 2008, it is essentially a distributed database that can store any type of record. Users can only edit the parts of the blockchain they own, making it highly secure, but anyone with access to the blockchain can see it, so it is also highly transparent. Some have described blockchain as the “internet of value”—anyone can send value anywhere the blockchain file can be accessed just like anyone can publish information that others can access on the internet no matter where they are in the world. Now that blockchain technology has expanded beyond the financial sector, many companies representing many industries are researching and exploring how adopting blockchain could help their business.</p> <p><strong>Where is the demand for blockchain skills?</strong></p> <p>Blockchain has become what the “cloud” was in the mid-2000s, poised to be the most highly talked about technology and one that offers tremendous professional opportunity. According to Upwork’s skills index, blockchain is the fastest-growing skill out of more than 5,000 on the site. Currently, demand is far outpacing supply. According to<u><a href="https://www.computerworld.com/article/3235972/it-careers/blockchain-moves-into-top-spot-for-hottest-job-skills.html" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.computerworld.com/article/3235972/it-careers/blockchain-moves-into-top-spot-for-hottest-job-skills.html" rel="nofollow"> Burning Glass Technologies</a></u>, there were more than 5,743 largely full-time job openings posted that required blockchain skills in the last 12 months. Even though as a skill-set, blockchain technology is in its infancy, it’s in demand from start-ups as well as established companies such as IBM and Samsung. Organizations are exploring not only cryptopcurrencies powered by blockchain but how the distributed ledgers that are the backbone of <span><a href="https://www.bernardmarr.com/default.asp?contentID=1302" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.bernardmarr.com/default.asp?contentID=1302" rel="nofollow">blockchain can be applied in other areas</a></span> such as supply chains, legal, contracts and more.</p> <p> </p> <p>Blockchain research and adoption requires the leadership and skills of professionals who can build the strategy and develop the blockchain solutions. Here are a few of the hottest positions:</p> <p><strong>Blockchain developer</strong></p> <p>Since there is virtually no industry leader who isn’t somewhat intrigued by the potential opportunities made possible through blockchain technology, blockchain developers who have the expertise to help companies develop blockchain platforms are in high demand. Blockchain development might offer the most robust career path at the moment, because until solutions are developed, all the benefits of blockchain can’t be realized. Some organizations call this role a blockchain engineer. This is a highly technical position that requires tremendous attention to detail.</p>

” readability=”50.4608879493″>

Blockchain expertise captured the No. 1 position on the latest skills index by Upwork for being the hottest in the U.S. job market. This is just one of the many indicators of how high the demand is for people with blockchain skills. Blockchain may have begun in finance to support cryptocurrencies, but now blockchain technology and the solutions it can provide are being explored by industries from healthcare to insurance to manufacturing and more. The only way companies can explore and achieve goals with blockchain is to hire those who have the skill-set to navigate this new technology. Here we’ll spotlight what blockchain technology is, who wants those with blockchain skills and some of the best blockchain jobs and careers that are available today.

Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock

What is blockchain technology?

Although blockchain technology was first developed to use with the cryptocurrency bitcoin in 2008, it is essentially a distributed database that can store any type of record. Users can only edit the parts of the blockchain they own, making it highly secure, but anyone with access to the blockchain can see it, so it is also highly transparent. Some have described blockchain as the “internet of value”—anyone can send value anywhere the blockchain file can be accessed just like anyone can publish information that others can access on the internet no matter where they are in the world. Now that blockchain technology has expanded beyond the financial sector, many companies representing many industries are researching and exploring how adopting blockchain could help their business.

Where is the demand for blockchain skills?

Blockchain has become what the “cloud” was in the mid-2000s, poised to be the most highly talked about technology and one that offers tremendous professional opportunity. According to Upwork’s skills index, blockchain is the fastest-growing skill out of more than 5,000 on the site. Currently, demand is far outpacing supply. According to Burning Glass Technologies, there were more than 5,743 largely full-time job openings posted that required blockchain skills in the last 12 months. Even though as a skill-set, blockchain technology is in its infancy, it’s in demand from start-ups as well as established companies such as IBM and Samsung. Organizations are exploring not only cryptopcurrencies powered by blockchain but how the distributed ledgers that are the backbone of blockchain can be applied in other areas such as supply chains, legal, contracts and more.

Blockchain research and adoption requires the leadership and skills of professionals who can build the strategy and develop the blockchain solutions. Here are a few of the hottest positions:

Blockchain developer

Since there is virtually no industry leader who isn’t somewhat intrigued by the potential opportunities made possible through blockchain technology, blockchain developers who have the expertise to help companies develop blockchain platforms are in high demand. Blockchain development might offer the most robust career path at the moment, because until solutions are developed, all the benefits of blockchain can’t be realized. Some organizations call this role a blockchain engineer. This is a highly technical position that requires tremendous attention to detail.

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Arc System Works Is Publishing A New 'Kill La Kill' Game

, I cover gaming in Japan as well the pop-culture here. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
Credit: Trigger

The anime series ‘Kill la Kill’ is getting a new game.

</div> </div> <p>With the recent countdown of a <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/olliebarder/2018/06/14/arc-system-works-and-studio-trigger-are-collaborating-on-a-new-project-together/" target="_self">new collaboration between Arc System Works and Studio Trigger</a>, the result of that will be a game for the 2013 anime series&nbsp;<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kill_la_Kill" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kill_la_Kill" rel="nofollow"><em data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kill_la_Kill">Kill la Kill</em></a>.</p> <p>Based on the quest of <a href="http://kill-la-kill.wikia.com/wiki/Ry%C5%ABko_Matoi" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:http://kill-la-kill.wikia.com/wiki/Ry%C5%ABko_Matoi" rel="nofollow">Ryuko Matoi</a> (shown above) to find her father’s killer, she wields the <a href="http://kill-la-kill.wikia.com/wiki/Scissor_Blade" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:http://kill-la-kill.wikia.com/wiki/Scissor_Blade" rel="nofollow">Scissor Blade</a> that can cut the mysterious <a href="http://kill-la-kill.wikia.com/wiki/Life_Fibers" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:http://kill-la-kill.wikia.com/wiki/Life_Fibers" rel="nofollow">Life Fibers</a>. The series itself is surprisingly involved and while rather slapstick at times, the series does have an interesting narrative.</p> <p>Of all the recent <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studio_Trigger" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studio_Trigger" rel="nofollow">Studio Trigger</a> anime, <em>Kill la Kill</em> is probably the best fit for an <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/olliebarder/2016/05/21/arc-system-works-and-its-fighting-game-legacy-its-all-about-the-cool/" target="_self">Arc Systems Works</a> fighting game.</p> <p> </p> <p>This is because the combat in the anime is obviously highly ostentatious but it is mostly based on close combat type attacks, which is ideal for a fighting game.</p> <p>Considering how gorgeous <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/games/2018/02/01/dragon-ball-fighterz-review-goku-said-to-knock-you-out/" target="_self"><em>Dragon Ball FighterZ</em></a> turned out, I am fully expecting to this <em>Kill la Kill</em> game to be excellent.</p> <p>However, it’s worth realizing that this new <em>Kill la Kill</em> game will be in fact developed by <a href="http://www.aplusgames.jp/" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:http://www.aplusgames.jp/" rel="nofollow">A+ Games</a>, rather than internally at Arc System Works.</p>

<p>To be fair though A+ Games has a long history of working with Arc System Works and producing solid games.</p> <p>Currently, release date and platforms are unannounced but it looks like this <em>Kill la Kill</em> game will surface sometime next year. In the meantime, the game has an <a href="http://www.kill-la-kill-game.jp/en/" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:http://www.kill-la-kill-game.jp/en/" rel="nofollow">official site</a> and a teaser trailer (shown below).</p>

<p><em>Follow me on <a href="https://twitter.com/Cacophanus/" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://twitter.com/Cacophanus/" rel="nofollow">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/cacophanus" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.facebook.com/cacophanus" rel="nofollow">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/user/Cacophanus" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.youtube.com/user/Cacophanus" rel="nofollow">YouTube</a>. I also manage <a href="http://www.mechadamashii.com" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:http://www.mechadamashii.com" rel="nofollow">Mecha Damashii</a> and do toy reviews over at <a href="http://www.hobbylink.tv/members/ollie/" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:http://www.hobbylink.tv/members/ollie/" rel="nofollow">hobbylink.tv</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Read my Forbes blog <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/olliebarder/" target="_self">here</a>.</em></p>” readability=”39.8310322156″>

Credit: Trigger

The anime series ‘Kill la Kill’ is getting a new game.

With the recent countdown of a new collaboration between Arc System Works and Studio Trigger, the result of that will be a game for the 2013 anime series Kill la Kill.

Based on the quest of Ryuko Matoi (shown above) to find her father’s killer, she wields the Scissor Blade that can cut the mysterious Life Fibers. The series itself is surprisingly involved and while rather slapstick at times, the series does have an interesting narrative.

Of all the recent Studio Trigger anime, Kill la Kill is probably the best fit for an Arc Systems Works fighting game.

This is because the combat in the anime is obviously highly ostentatious but it is mostly based on close combat type attacks, which is ideal for a fighting game.

Considering how gorgeous Dragon Ball FighterZ turned out, I am fully expecting to this Kill la Kill game to be excellent.

However, it’s worth realizing that this new Kill la Kill game will be in fact developed by A+ Games, rather than internally at Arc System Works.

To be fair though A+ Games has a long history of working with Arc System Works and producing solid games.

Currently, release date and platforms are unannounced but it looks like this Kill la Kill game will surface sometime next year. In the meantime, the game has an official site and a teaser trailer (shown below).

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. I also manage Mecha Damashii and do toy reviews over at hobbylink.tv.

Read my Forbes blog here.

KFC Just Announced the Unthinkable. Here's Why It's a Bad Idea

Kentucky Fried Chicken is turning into Kentucky Fried Tofu later this year. This comes as a result of the US brand’s recent announcement that they will be catering a new menu item to new sections of the market in the United Kingdom, who don’t eat chicken.  

This mystery meat, may contain less calories, but the larger question worth asking is will it contain the same authentic brand experience for KFC customers?

I think that it goes without saying that this is a bad move.

Although this isn’t as dramatic as the IHOP to IHOB rebrand, it does raise a few concerns from my perspective. If KFC changed their name to KFU, I think some towns would riot.

So let’s get to the basics of this announcement and why I think it’s a bad idea.

For starters, KFC is a world-renowned fast food chain. Being a leader in the fast-food industry means that they aren’t catering to health enthusiasts.

In fact, they have been doing the opposite–very profitably–for decades, now.  

However, every company goes through periods where they feel they need to catch onto the next big thing. Unfortunately for KFC, I don’t think they’ve established a proper market fit.  

The Colonel’s secret sauce is in their branding. The white-haired founder lives on posthumously in commercials and franchise logos, and represents a staple in American comfort food.

What do you think about KFC what comes to mind?  

Probably their home-style biscuits and gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, and of course their famous chicken.  This is because they’ve done an excellent job of creating something that everyone in the world can easily recognize.

Despite this recent blunder, there are still a few takeaways we can glean from this experience.

So what can other companies learn?

1. Continue doing what made you successful

As businesses strive to increase profitability, it’s important to make sure that the main thing, remains the main thing.

Jamba Juice, Protein Bar, and even Subway cater to a health-conscious demographic. Customers who choose to eat at these restaurants aren’t going to start eating at KFC suddenly. It’s important that you let your competitors deviate into newer markets where you don’t have a presence, while you stay tried and true for your loyal customers.  

2. Don’t try to please everyone.

Imagine if KFC began offering a variety of new products: buttered popcorn to complement the popcorn chicken, BBQ ribs for a true Southern experience, and even chicken and waffles to make sure that everyone got what they wanted.

The menu would become too convoluted, kitchen staffs would be in pandemonium over entirely new food items, and sales would plummet.  

The perfect recipe for pleasing no one is trying to please everyone.

3. Improve strengths, not weaknesses.

Everyone has weaknesses. There isn’t a single company on the planet that is perfect. However, working on strengths is the fastest way to get better and stay in your own lane.

When everyone else is trying to compensate for weaknesses, focus on improving what is already working. If a particular product line is doing well, devote more research and developent money towards that. If another product is undesirable, ditch it and move on to something else.  

Being able to launch successful products can be challenging. There’s a reason that Apple doesn’t make driverless cars, and Tesla doesn’t make smartphones.

Being a leader in any market means having sound judgment in terms of what not to focus on.

From my own personal experience, I’d suggest that anytime you are thinking of going into a new market, you make sure that it won’t alienate current customers, or deviate too far from your current successful product lines.

Companies I’ve worked with in my career, usually are best served to stick to the plan and continue doing what’s been working well for them. When companies try to take on too much, too fast–in multiple directions–that energy often tapers out and sales start to fall. Momentum and timing are keys to success in business, as in life.

Don’t try to make everyone happy, and don’t cater to vegetarians if you are the world’s leading chicken chain!

Android Circuit: Radical Galaxy S10 Leaks, Huge Note 9 Revealed, Google Confirms Expensive Pixel 3

Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes the futuristic Galaxy S10 hardware, the latest leaked details of the Galaxy Note 9, the unique logo that confirmed Google Pixel 3 XL, the Nokia 5.1’s upcoming American adventure, OnePlus 6’s latest security issues, a review of Huawei P20 Pro, and a new font for Android.

Android Circuit is here to remind you of a few of the many things that have happened around Android in the last week (and you can find the weekly Apple news digest here).

Supersizing The Galaxy Note 9

If Samsung wants to have a hashtag for the upcoming Galaxy Note 9, I suspect #big is in the running. By Reporting on the latest leaks and information around the South Korean phablet, Forbes’ Gordon Kelly writes that everything is bigger, from the storage and memory, to the camera and the battery:

The Galaxy Note 8 was rightly criticised for its meagre 3,300mAh battery and the Galaxy S9 Plus only improved on this slightly at 3,500 mAh. But now Ice Universe points out that, thanks to clever camera positioning, the Galaxy Note 9 will be the first mass-market Samsung phone with a 4,000 mAh battery.

More here on Forbes.

Galaxy S10’s Futuristic Speaker In Display

As smartphone designers around the world look to reduce bezels and facias on the front of the device. Almost every manufacturer is turning to notched displays, but Samsung has another twist to add to the equation. It looks like the Galaxy S10 will not need to have an earpiece speaker at the top of the handset, because new bone conduction technology will allow it to use the display to generate the audio. I looked over the new details here:

Of course the more hardware you can remove from the front of your smartphone, the smaller the notch has to be. Samsung has a trick up its sleeve to reduce the amount of forward facing technology that takes up space either in the notch or the top bezel. It can use the screen to act as the earpiece and produce the audio when a user is on a voice call.

…This doesn’t mean that the Galaxy S10 will not have any speakers, but it does mean they can be side mounted, freeing up vital space on the front of the S10 so that Samsung’s design team can – presumably like every other smartphone design team – reduce the fascia and bezels and create an all-display front-facing profile.

More on Forbes.

Samsung president of mobile communications business DJ Koh presents the new Samsung Galaxy S9 (Photo: Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images)

Pixel 3 XL’s Mystery Logo ‘Confirms’ Google Leak.

Leaked photos that many believed represented the upcoming Pixel 3 XL handset have a subtle sign that ties them back to Google. While the handsets may not have the stylised ‘G’ logo as found on production models of the Pixel handsets, the placeholder logo has been used before… on prototypes of the Pixel 2. Stephen Hall sums up the details:

A photo of a Google Pixel 3 XL prototype leaked earlier today, showing its notch-and-chin design, its ‘crosshatch’ code name, and the first look at what seems to be an all-glass back. If you had any doubt in your mind that it’s a real Google prototype, then I think those doubts can be settled. I found the mystery placeholder logo on the device’s back on an official Pixel 2 prototype from last year.

More on 9to5Google. Meanwhile it looks like one of the curious Pixel 2 features will return in the Pixel 3, according to a deep cut on the Android P source code:

Because XDA Forums’ member meraz9000 attained a prototype Pixel 3 XL which Google accidentally confirmed is the real deal and that user has been able to confirm Active Edge works on their model. Furthermore, after digging around in Android P beta code, XDA Developers found reference to Active Edge commands for the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL codenames (Crosshatch and Blueline). Slam dunk.

More on that feature find here.

Next: Nokia 5.1 heading to America, OnePlus 6 security issues, Huawei P20 Pro reviewed, and Google’s new font…

Could Google Image Search Help Fight Fake News On Social Media?

Shutterstock

Last month an image purporting to show children in cages as a result of current immigration policies went viral on social media, accelerated by a number of high profile journalists, activists and former government officials who shared it widely – their visibility and stature leading many to trust the image at face value without the level of suspicion and verification that users might apply to other viral images. The image was real, but taken out of context and spread virally before users began to realize it actually dated from a 2014 news article. Yet, when I first saw the image I simply right-clicked on it and ran a reverse Google Images search that immediately turned up the original 2014 source. Could social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook automate such image searches to help combat fake news at scale?

Social media today is an ocean of false and misleading information spread for nefarious purposes, but far more often by well-meaning individuals who share first and ask questions later. The ease and rapidness with which a 2014 news image went viral, made famous by the very individuals ordinarily tasked with helping to combat false information stands testament to just how easy it is for false information to spread in today’s speed-over-accuracy information ecosystem. In contrast to unverifiable citizen imagery that lacks provenance, professional news photography is particularly easy to verify, yet such ease of verification did little to slow the spread of this image.

The problem is that social media norms encourage sharing over understanding, creating an informational ecosystem in which users act more as transmission nodes, receiving and passing onwards information, than as true consumers that digest and reason about the information they receive. According to one study, 59% of links shared on social media were never actually viewed, while an increasing body of research emphasizes that in our click-happy world of social media, our social capital is dependent on being the quickest to share new information with our connections, with little incentive to take the time to actually read and digest that information to vet it first.

The mobile interfaces that dominate social media consumption today worsen this effect, entrenching the walled garden in which we consume social content and making it difficult to perform extensive research to verify a post. After all, juggling multiple browser tabs and wading through multiple websites to verify the provenance and context of an image seen on social media takes time even on a desktop, but is especially hard in the resource and screen-constrained environment of mobile devices.

On a desktop using the Google Chrome browser it is relatively trivial to right click on a questionable image, click “Search Google for image” and instantly see all of the places on the web that Google’s search engine has seen that image before. Google’s commercial Cloud Vision API goes a step further and can even OCR the image to recognize all text seen in it in 55 languages, making it possible even to fact check visual memes that contain textual quotes or statements. Even more usefully, the Cloud Vision API scans all previous appearances of the image on the web for the captions associated with the image in each case across all of the languages it supports, assigning it topical labels that summarize the most common descriptions of the image online.

Imagine if the major social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook adopted a similar reverse images search and OCR for all images shared on their platform. Every single image shared on their platforms would be compared against a database of unique images and for each new image seen for the first time, the system would perform an open web image comparison to find all previous appearances of that image online. The date the image was first seen on the web and a links to a few high-profile appearances of it would be displayed prominently under each instance of the image being shared online.

In the case of the immigration image, the photograph was shared with a link to the article it came from, which was clearly dated 2014, but when shared on Twitter and Facebook, the presentation display formats used by those platforms do not clearly and prominently emphasize the publication date of a link, meaning that all most users saw was the photograph and a citation to azcentral.com. Displaying the publication date of shared links more prominently might have slowed the spread of the image if users could immediately see that the article dated to 2014.

William Shatner Promotes Solar-Powered Cryptocoin Mining

Ever the showman and pitchman, William Shatner isn’t shy when he’s passionate about something. So onlookers may have expected something more from Star Trek’s original Capt. Kirk when he announced that Solar Alliance Energy, a company for which he’s the spokesperson, had purchased a 165,000 square foot warehouse in Murphysboro, Ill. as the first of many solar-powered facilities it plans to lease to cryptocurrency miners. Maybe a full-voiced, head-titled-back, “COOOOOOINNNNNNNNN!” as a camera pulled up and away? Alas, no, not today.

Instead Shatner made anodyne statements about the future of currencies that existed solely as bits. “I am proud to be a part of the group that is powering the digital currency revolution,” he said in a statement. “Blockchain technologies, and cryptocurrencies specifically, are at the cutting edge of a new distributed technology infrastructure.”

Shatner’s connection to tech is tenuous — and always has been, from Priceline to LottoGopher — but it highlights a significant and rapidly increasing problem associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies: they require vast amounts of electrical power. The distributed worldwide Bitcoin network employs specialized server hardware that performs over 80 million trillion operations a second worldwide to find a mathematical needle in a haystack that allows them to collect a hefty reward and add transactions to a global ledger, called a blockchain. By comparison, the world’s fastest supercomputer performs 200,000 trillion operations a second.

The need for that much calculation comes with accompanying needs for power. A recent peer-reviewed paper that performed a rigorous analysis of the likely energy consumed by Bitcoin alone said the currency consumes nearly as much energy as all of Ireland, with a current annualized rate of 22.3 trillion watts of power (TWh) a year at minimum, compared to Ireland’s consumption of 25 TWh. Bitcoin’s electrical use could power roughly 2 billion average American homes. The paper’s author believes this could triple by the end of 2018.

Solar Alliance Energy’s Murphysboro facility will get a 3-megawatt solar panel array, which at a theoretical peak capacity could generate about one-tenth of 1% of power consumed by Bitcoin globally. But because solar only works during daylight hours and only at peak efficiency for part of the day, actual production will likely be far less.

While cryptocurrency advocates have promoted the idea of green power stoking the Bitcoin furnaces—especially off-the-grid sources devoted exclusively to mining—the scale and location of large-scale mining operations make any dramatic shift to solar unlikely.

Murphysboro has just 8,000 residents, which is typical of cities in which cryptocurrency mining operations locate. Small towns with cheap hydroelectric or other forms of power around the United States have increasingly wrestled with miners who come into town and start asking for tens of megawatts of power, the equivalent of large-scale industrial operations. Some public utility districts have imposed advance payment requirements for infrastructure upgrades, frozen new mining operations, or created new tiers of service to charge miners more.

Shatner was once a cryptocoin skeptic, but told the Chicago Tribune he’s now a convert. While he lives in California, he has a home in Kentucky, and expects he might visit the facility, which Solar Alliance Energy plans to start leasing out to mining clients by the end of 2018.

Senators Demand Answers From Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos About Alexa Mishap

Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Chris Coons (D-DE) have sent Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos a number of privacy-related questions about Amazon’s Echo voice-controlled speaker, reflecting the growing concern about how the device records and retains users’ conversations, according to Wired.

The senators, who serve as chair and ranking member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, specifically referenced a widely reported incident last month in which a Portland couple had their conversation recorded by the Alexa voice-recognition software used in the Echo. The device then sent the recording as an attachment to one of their contacts without them requesting it.

Amazon confirmed that the event occurred, and explained that it was caused by a series of unlikely triggers. In their letter to Bezos, the senators demanded action that would prevent the same thing from happening again, said Wired, which obtained a copy of the still unreleased correspondence.

Wired reported that the letter contained almost 30 questions, including about some of the nitty-gritty of Alexa’s data management like when Alexa sends data to Amazon’s servers, how often it does so, how long that captured data is stored, and what period of time after someone says “Alexa” (which cues the technology to perk up) does an Echo record a conversation. The senators also asked whether consumers can delete recordings.

All voice-recognition devices—whether those from Apple, Amazon, Google, or startups—must listen continuously in order to know when its trigger is hit. (On smartphones, a user may opt to use a different trigger.) While Amazon and Google have characterized their respective systems’ privacy components relatively thoroughly, with Apple erring on the side of sending relatively little voice data off of devices, Amazon’s particulars are less well known.

Sen. Coons tweeted a link to the Wired story about their letter shortly after it appeared, and both senators are quoted in the article.