</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>
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.
</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>
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.
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:
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.
</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 <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″>
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.
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).
Read my Forbes blog here.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Next: Nokia 5.1 heading to America, OnePlus 6 security issues, Huawei P20 Pro reviewed, and Google’s new font…
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.
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 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.
It outlasted its 90-day initial mission by over 14 years, but a massive Martian dust storm could put an end to the solar-powered Opportunity rover’s travels. The storm has blanketed 14 million square miles of Mars, or about a quarter of the planet, which is currently inhabited only by active and inactive robots.
Opportunity began its lonely sojourn Jan. 25, 2004, and helped Earth-bound scientists examine meteorites on the Meridiani Plains, and discovered traces of ancient acidic lakes.
NASA says the solar-powered craft stopped responding on June 12, but all hope isn’t lost. The agency expects Opportunity shifted into a “low power fault mode,” which disables all systems except the mission clock, reducing power usage from scarce energy stored in its batteries.
The clock will regularly wake an onboard computer to check power levels. If power ever returns to an operational level, the rover will slowly bring itself back into service—or at least start communicating.
While the craft derives its energy from the sun, it’s critical for it to charge its batteries fully enough to run heaters that keep components from failing in the cold, ironically including the batteries. Mars’ average temperature—its average!—is -81°F.
Scott Maxwell, a former Mars rover driver who led the team driving Opportunity and its twin Spirit for the first several years, says via email to Fortune, “I refuse to believe that anything can kill Opportunity—I half think she’ll still be roving Mars when humans are forgotten!”
Maxwell, who left NASA in 2013 for Google, notes in the spirit of anthropomorphizing common to those involved with rovers, “She did more than anyone expected from her or ever could have expected from her, and if we can all say that at the end of our lives, then we’ll be as lucky as she is.”
NASA’s Curiosity rover is elsewhere on the planet, on the edge of the current dust storm, but it also doesn’t need sunlight. It relies on radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTGs): plutonium-powered devices that convert the heat of radioactive decay into electricity.
This isn’t Opportunity’s first dust rodeo. In 2007, just a few years into its extended mission, a planetary dust storm blocked the sun for two weeks, during which time the craft stopped responding as well. However, the current storm is twice as opaque as the 2007 one, providing even less marginal sunlight.
Opportunity landed with a twin craft, Spirit, which stopped communicating in 2010. Spirit is believed to have given up the ghost due to a failed wheel and being mired in soft sand, which led to a bad position relative to the sun for charging. Without enough power, Spirit likely froze too deeply to revive itself.
The agency has plenty of eyes on Mars that may help it discover Opportunity’s fate if it doesn’t wake from slumber. Besides Curiosity and Opportunity on the surface, a whopping six orbiters circle the red planet, gathering data for NASA, the European Space Agency, Russia’s Roscosmos, and the Indian Space Research Organization.
More help is on the way, too. NASA recently launched towards Mars the Insight lander—and two tiny CubeSats, satellites that are 14.4 by 9.5 by 4.6 inches when packed tight. Unfurled, they contain full propulsion systems. The CubeSats, named Mars Cube One and Two, won’t collect science data or land, but they’re tests for future small-scale deployments.
NASA says it will be several days after the storm abates before Opportunity’s fate becomes clear.
It’s Tuesday, which means the E3 show floor is now open. It also means we’re finally at the end of a four-day slog of press conferences from some of the gaming world’s largest publishers. While Activision Blizzard still doesn’t do its own pre-E3 event, just about everyone else does, which means these 96 hours have been a deluge of announcements and reveals that we did our best to get our arms around. We didn’t even cover them all: the Square Enix press conference was basically devoid of new information, and the PC Gaming Show, while compelling, was mostly a long list of indie game announcements—some of which we’ll be getting to later this week.
So, for now, here’s everything you need to know about every press conference you need to know about. Get through this, and you’ll be ready for all the other E3 news that starts….well, now.
E3 kicked things off on Saturday (yes, Saturday) with a quiet, largely uneventful press conference from Electronic Arts, broadcasted from their annual EA Play event at the Hollywood Palladium. The presser opened with Battlefield V, set during World War II, which will have heavily destructible environments and a Battle Royale Mode a la Fortnite. Respawn Entertainment gave up some details about their in-progress Star Wars game—more on that shortly—and a bit of an update on the ongoing service for Star Wars: Battlefront II.
In new games, EA revealed Unravel 2, a follow-up to its game about a precocious, cuddly little yarn man (this time, he has a friend!) and Sea of Solitude, a compellingly brooding small game introduced by a compellingly earnest German developer. The publisher also took the wraps announced a mobile Command & Conquer game and gave a lengthy demo of Anthem, BioWare’s upcoming shared-world mech game that seems to be aiming to be a Destiny killer. Even better, Anthem now has a date: February, 22, 2019. (Also FIFA was there, because FIFA is always there.)
Biggest Surprise: We got a name for Respawn’s new Star Wars game: Jedi: Fallen Order. Respawn has made great first-person shooters with the Titanfall series, so it’ll be interesting to see what they can do with the Star Wars license.
Biggest Missed Opportunity: Jedi: Fallen Order was announced sans logo or even concept trailer, which felt like a letdown. It’s hard to get excited about a name, even when it’s a good name.
Microsoft’s last couple of Xbox press conferences haven’t exactly succeeded at articulating the future of the Xbox—even if that future is unexpectedly bright. This year, then, was a pleasant surprise: Microsoft brought a lot of material, and a lot of surprises.
First, the publisher has quietly been getting very acquisition-happy, and is hoping to bolster its first-party games with a slew of studios that they now own. These include Ninja Theory, who made last year’s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Undead Labs (State of Decay), Playground Games (Forza Horizon), and Compulsion Games (We Happy Few). It’s hard to say whether or not acquisitions like this are good for studios; creators get a payday, but history is riddled with instances of big publishers buying small studios and slowly running them into the ground. Time will tell whether or not this is good for gaming, but it’s certainly a good move for Microsoft.
Then, there were games. A lot of games. There’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, a game about ninjas from the developers of Dark Souls, coming in 2019. Forza Horizon 4, a new installment that takes the racing franchise to Britain. The Division 2, which brings the shared world shooter to Washington, DC. Devil May Cry 5, with the franchise’s original creator back at the helm. Dying Light 2, a sequel to my favorite zombie parkour game. Gears of War 5, a Gears of War tactics game, and a Gears of War themed, uh, Funko Pop game. And Halo: Infinite, a new installment in the Halo franchise that we know just about nothing about. Also, fans got a new trailer for Kingdom Hearts 3, which is officially coming out January 25, 2019.
Biggest Surprise: Halo: Infinite could be a big deal, as could the expanded effort into Microsoft Game Pass, a subscription service that gives subscribers the Netflix-like ability to download and play a swath of the Xbox library for a flat monthly fee. But after Microsoft made so much noise about the PC at last year’s press conference, this year’s relative silence spoke volumes.
Biggest Missed Opportunity: Offering just about no details on a new Halo title made the announcement fall pretty flat.
The Bethesda E3 Showcase was huge this year. We got a closer look at Rage 2, a massive open-world shooter co-developed by id Software and Avalanche Studios, complete (?) with an on-stage appearance by Andrew WK. A short trailer played for Doom Eternal a sequel to the excellent Doom 2016 reboot; just like the old-school Doom 2, Eternal is apparently set on Earth. QuakeCon in August should provide many more details in that realm.
There will also be a new Wolfenstein game next year, set in an alternate-universe 1980s and starring the twin daughters of Nazi-murder-machine BJ Blaskowicz. And then there’s the big stuff: a lengthy look at Fallout 76, an impressive-looking, fully online, open-world Fallout game coming November 14; Elder Scrolls Blades, a mobile phone game that strives to be a fully featured, complete Elder Scrolls experience; and two projects much farther out on the development pipeline, sci-fi title Starfield and Elder Scrolls VI. Both are unlikely to show up on the current generation of consoles.
Biggest Surprise: Any glimpse at Elder Scrolls VI is a bit of a surprise, actually. As was the jokey-but-maybe-real Announcement of Skyrim: Very Special Edition for the Alexa.
Biggest Missed Opportunity: Andrew WK, whose presence seemed to confuse and even tranquilize the crowd. (To be fair, this is mostly a missed opportunity for Andrew WK.)
Ubisoft’s presser opted for meatiness, giving fans a long look at Beyond Good and Evil 2, which looks to be a huge earthy space opera, though detail are scarce about gameplay or release. As Microsoft also revealed, The Division 2 will be set in Washington, DC, and will feature raids and free DLC as it tries its hardest to become the Tom Clancy-verse Destiny-killer it aspires to be.
New properties showed up as well. There was a lot of Skull & Bones, a gritty pirate adventure in a shared online world, and Starlink: Battle for Atlas, a sci-fi toys-to-life game (think Skylanders) bringing its dogfight-heavy combat to the Nintendo Switch—and featuring Fox from Star Fox. Finally, there was a big look at Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which takes place in Ancient Greece and lets the player choose between two characters. Also, you can talk to Socrates, so … there’s that. Odyssey comes out October 5.
Biggest Surprise: Unlike the past couple of years, Aisha Tyler didn’t host. Aisha! Where’d you go? (Probably one of your gazillion jobs.)
Biggest Missed Opportunity: Despite teasing it with recent DLC for Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Ubisoft did not announce a new entry in the Splinter Cell stealth game franchise. Color me disappointed.
Sony’s Monday-night press conference this year was a bit odd. It started in a small “church” set, which ended up being a recreation of a location from The Last of Us, Part II, which was also the first game shown of the night. The showcase focused on lengthy demos for a handful of major Sony titles: The Last of Us; Ghost of Tsushima, a samurai game developed by Sucker Punch, which looks like a Kurosawa fan’s dream game; Death Stranding, Hideo Kojima’s surrealist eco-pocalypse starring mo-capped digital versions of Norman Reedus and Mads Mikkelsen along with what was, frankly, a weird number of babies; and Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man, which is looking like quite a romp.
Between each of these big showcases, we got canned commentary along with other announcements: A Resident Evil 2 full HD remake, coming next January 22; va sequel to the samurai Souls-like Nioh 2 developed by Team Ninja; and Control, a fascinating-looking game from Remedy Entertainment (Alan Wake) about the director of a supernatural agency. There was also another Kingdom Hearts 3 trailer, showcasing a Pirates of the Carribean world, which brought the week’s KH3 trailer total to three (so far).
Biggest Surprise: The footage of The Last of Us, Part II, along with being just as dizzyingly hyperviolent as its predecessor, featured what might be the first and only lesbian kiss ever featured on an E3 stage. The presentation of queerness in a game by a company like Sony isn’t without reproach by any means, but that’s honestly still pretty cool.
Biggest Missed Opportunity: Fair warning: I’m not going to stop hollering about Bloodborne 2 until they release Bloodborne 2.
Nintendo’s press conference somehow felt both huge and underwhelming. First, we got some new announcements, in the form of Daemon x Machina, a neat-looking mech action game, coming in 2019; some DLC for Xenoblade Chronicles 2; a new snazzy-looking Fire Emblem; and Super Mario Party, which will include the novel feature of linking together two Switch consoles to make one big board-game simulation. Next: that game you like is coming back in style! Yes, it was the Nintendo Switch port montage, featuring a ton of games, like Dragon Ball FighterZ, Hollow Knight, Wasteland 2, and the JRPG classic The World Ends With You (which we’d heard about but was still nice to see).
The rest of the show was devoted to one title, and one title only: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which arrives for the Nintendo Switch December 7. They ran down the characters (all of them, from every Smash Bros game ever, are here), and went over a long list of very detailed changes that are sure to delight hardcore fans but might have been a bit dull to everyone else. And that was, uh, it.
Biggest Surprise: Ridley, the giant dragon alien baddie from Metroid, is coming to Smash Bros, which seems like a logistical nightmare for the developers.
Biggest Missed Opportunity: Nintendo completely failed to mention Metroid Prime 4, which the company had announced last year, or their online service, which is supposedly still slated for this fall and yet is still a huge unknown.