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Target Passes Walmart As Top US Corporate Installer of Solar Power ( 49

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Electrek: Target is the top corporate installer of solar power in the USA with 147MW installed on 300 stores. Walmart is close behind with 140MW, while Ikea has installed solar on 90% of its retail locations. The Solar Energy Institute of America (SEIA) report shows over 1,000MW of solar installed in almost 2,000 unique installations by the largest corporate entities in the country. Additionally these groups have more than doubled their installation volume year on year, with 2015 seeing a total of 130MW, while 2016 is projected to be closer to 280MW. Big box retail locations offer some of the best potential spaces for solar power to be installed -- on top of square, flat structures and in previously built parking lots. The average size of an installation by a company in this group is about 500kW -- 75X the size of an average residential solar installation. The RE100 organization has signed up 81 global corporations (many on the SEIA list) who have pledged 100% renewable energy. "We're incredibly proud of the progress we've made in improving building efficiencies and reducing environmental impact. Our commitment to installing solar panels on 500 stores and distribution centers by 2020 is evidence of that progress" -- said John Leisen, vice president of property management at Target. The geographic breakdown of solar installations is based upon three main drivers -- good sunlight, expensive electricity and state level renewable mandates, with Southern California having all three. The northeast USA, with its expensive electricity and aggressive clean energy push, has been on par with California (50% of total solar) for commercial installations. A report put together by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) breaks down the various state level laws that support corporations going green -- and, without surprise, it becomes clear that the legal support of renewable energy is a definite driver.
United States

Prosecutors Say Contractor Stole 50 Terabytes of NSA Data ( 83

An NSA contractor siphoned off dozens of hard drives' worth of data from government computers over two decades, prosecutors will allege on Friday. From a ZDNet report: The contractor, Harold T. Martin III, is also accused of stealing thousands of highly classified documents, computers, and other storage devices during his tenure at the agency. It's not known exactly what Martin allegedly stole, but a report from The New York Times on Wednesday suggests that the recently-leaked hacking tools used by the agency to conduct surveillance were among the stolen cache of files. Prosecutors will on Friday charge Martin with violating the Espionage Act. If convicted, he could face ten years in prison on each count. The charges, news of which was first reported by The Washington Post, outline a far deeper case than first thought, compared to the felony theft and a lesser misdemeanor charge of removal and retention of classified information revealed in an unsealed indictment last month.
Data Storage

32GB iPhone 7 Has 8 Times Slower Storage Performance Than 128GB Model ( 154

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Next Web: Apple isn't telling you everything about its phones. Few weeks back, GSMArena reported that the 32GB iPhone 7 and 7 Plus had significantly slower storage performance than the 128GB and 256GB models of the device. In a new video, Unbox Therapy's Lew Hilsenteger conducted a series of speed tests that confirm the discrepancy in storage speeds between the different configurations of Apple's phone -- and it turns out the 32GB iPhone is about eight times slower than the larger capacity storage version of the device. For his first test, Hilsenteger used the free PerformanceTest Mobile app to compare the read and write speeds of the iPhone. While there was little difference between the read speeds of the 32GB and 128GB models, there's a huge disparity when it comes to write speed. The 32GB iPhone writes at 42MB per second, which is nearly eight times slower than the 128GB version's 341MB per second. Hilsenteger then performed a real-world speed test, which included transferring movies from a MacBook to the iPhone using a USB cable. While the 256GB model took two minutes and 34 seconds to complete the 4.2GB file transfer, the 32GB iPhone 7 needed a total of three minutes and 40 seconds for the same transmission.

LeEco Who? Chinese Tech Giant Tries Its Luck In the US With 'More Products Than You've Ever Seen' ( 58

LeEco is often called the Netflix of China. Which is funny for two reasons: LeEco is bigger than Netflix, and it has been around for longer than the American on-demand movies and TV shows streaming service. Besides, LeEco runs a fleet of other businesses, including ecommerce portal, smartphones, TVs, and even an autonomous cars. A company executive said this month that this would be a better description of LeEco, "If you were to take Apple, Amazon, Paramount Pictures, Tesla, Uber and Netflix and combine all of those companies, you get what LeEco does in China" But you may not have heard much about LeEco, the company which was until earlier this year known as LeTv. But you will now, because the company today announced a range of products for the U.S. market. TechCrunch adds: Perhaps predictably, one of the first US-based offerings from the company often referred to as "the Netflix of China" will be a content platform. And, as with just about everything else at today's event, LeEco's coming out swinging. The list of partners for LeEco Live includes MGM, Lionsgate, Vice, Showtime, Sling and Magnolia Pictures, along with publication partners like Cosmopolitan and Esquire, to name but a few. From another CNET report, which lists the other things that LeEco announced today: UMax 85 TV is LeEco's flagship 4K smart television. It's 85 inches, comes with 4GB in RAM and 64GB in storage and supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision. It will cost $4,999. Super4 X65 TV is LeEco's second biggest 4K smart television at 65 inches and comes with most of the same features as the UMax 85. Super4 X55 TV is a 55-inch 4K smart television and comes with most of the same features as the UMax 85. Super4 X43 Pro TV is 43-inch 4K smart television and comes with most of the same features as the UMax 85. LeEco has an upcoming prototype VR headset; it will have a gyroscope, bluetooth headphones and USB Type-C. LeSee Pro is LeEco's self-driving concept car. It will be fully autonomous and will have a connected interior to let people stream movies, music and work documents. LeSee is LeEco's semi-autonomous vehicle (level 3). It is internet-connected and has streaming content in rear seats. LeEco first unveiled this car in April.

Amazon Japan's Manga-Ready Kindle Has 8 Times the Storage ( 82

Amazon Japan has an unusual challenge with the Kindle: it not only has to cater to your typical bookworm, but to a local fondness for image-heavy (and thus storage-intensive) manga books. What it's going to do? Release a special model just for those readers, apparently. Engadget reports: The company has introduced a manga version of the Kindle Paperwhite with 32GB of storage, or eight times as much space as the run-of-the-mill 4GB model. You could cram every single volume of Asari-chan, Kochikame and Naruto into this e-reader, Amazon says. The manga Kindle is available for pre-order now, with pricing commanding a slight premium over the usual Paperwhite. You're spending about $157 or $118.

Google's AI Can Now Learn From Its Own Memory Independently ( 70

The DeepMind artificial intelligence (AI) being developed by Google's parent company, Alphabet, can now intelligently build on what's already inside its memory, the system's programmers have announced. An anonymous reader writes: Their new hybrid system -- called a Differential Neural Computer (DNC) -- pairs a neural network with the vast data storage of conventional computers, and the AI is smart enough to navigate and learn from this external data bank. What the DNC is doing is effectively combining external memory (like the external hard drive where all your photos get stored) with the neural network approach of AI, where a massive number of interconnected nodes work dynamically to simulate a brain. "These models... can learn from examples like neural networks, but they can also store complex data like computers," write DeepMind researchers Alexander Graves and Greg Wayne in a blog post. At the heart of the DNC is a controller that constantly optimizes its responses, comparing its results with the desired and correct ones. Over time, it's able to get more and more accurate, figuring out how to use its memory data banks at the same time.

More Lithium Battery Product Recalls Predicted ( 99

While "the vast majority" of lithium-ion batteries will never malfunction, lithium itself "is highly combustible and batteries made with it are subject to 'thermal runaway'," which can be triggered by damage -- or by bad design. An anonymous reader quotes the San Jose Mercury News: Battery and electronics manufacturers take numerous steps to try to mitigate such dangers... But while the industry has tried to make lithium-ion batteries safer, 'the technology itself isn't foolproof,' said Ravi Manghani, director of energy storage research at GTM Research... And there's reason to think that the problem could get worse before it gets better. Consumer demand for devices that are ever more powerful and longer lasting has encouraged manufacturers to make batteries that can hold even more charge. To do that, they typically pack the battery cells closer and closer together...

Since June of this year, educational toy company Roylco recalled 1,400 light tables designed for kids... Razor, Swagway and some eight other manufacturers recalled a total of 500,000 hoverboards. And HP and Sony between them recalled more than 42,000 notebook computers. All for similar reasons -- lithium-ion batteries that either had caught fire or which have posed a fire hazard... Other notorious examples include the several different Tesla Model S's that have caught fire, typically after crashes compromised their battery packs, and Sony's wide-scale recall a decade ago of the batteries that powered its Vaio and other laptop computers.

In a related story, Samsung's recall of their Note 7 is now expected to cost $5.3 billion.

Android 7.1 To Roll Out To Nexus Devices in December; Preview Goes Out This Month ( 26

Google said today it will roll out Android 7.1 to a range of Nexus devices -- including Nexus 6 -- later this year (December). A developer preview of Android 7.1 will be available to enthusiasts later this month. From an Engadget report: They also confirmed what 7.1 will bring to the table. Aside from Daydream VR support, most of the new features focus on giving developers more options to spruce up their apps' functionality. First, they can now make custom shortcuts, much like the ones popping up in iOS via 3D Touch. There's also support for image keyboards so users can insert stickers or GIFs within apps. For carriers and calling apps, 7.1 has APIs for multi-endpoint calling and telephony configuration. Lastly, developers can now route users to a Settings page to free up storage space by deleting unused files.

Can We Really Stop Climate Change By 'Capturing' Carbon? ( 275

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: The recently-ratified Paris Climate Accord calls on countries to keep the rise in average global temperatures under 2 degrees Celsius (a threshold which would bring extreme weather, water shortages and reduced agricultural production). But a recent article on Vox warns that "the world has to zero out net carbon emissions...for a good chance of avoiding 2 degrees, by around 2065. After that, emissions have to go negative... We are betting our species' future on our ability to bury carbon."

That's why everyone's watching the W.A. Parish Generating Station in Texas, which came online this week -- on schedule, and under budget. "The plant will use a newly installed system to capture 90 percent of the carbon dioxide created during combustion."

Alas, Slashdot reader Dan Drollette brings bad news from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: To fight climate change with carbon capture and storage technology, we'd have to complete one new carbon capture facility every working day for the next 70 years. It's better to switch to a diet of energy conservation, efficiency, and renewables, rather than rely on this technology as a kind of emergency planetary liposuction.

Google Unveils Pixel and Pixel XL, the First Phones It 'Designed Inside and Out' ( 197

At an event on Tuesday, Google unveiled the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, the first phones "designed inside and out by Google." Focusing less on the hardware, the company says the biggest selling point of the phones is Google Assistant, which will be available to users wherever they go. Both Pixels have a quad-core 2.15GHz 64-bit processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB or 128GB of storage, a 12.3MP rear camera, an 8MP front camera, a fingerprint scanner on the back, and a USB-C port on the bottom. The major differences between the two are in size, display (5-inch vs 5.5-inch), and battery (2770mAh vs 3450mAh). The company says the rear camera on both phones is top-notch as well, scoring 89 on DxO, the highest ever for a smartphone. Both phones also come with "endless cloud storage," the company said. It will let users backup unlimited storage in full-resolution images and videos shot with the Pixel. Pricing starts at $649 for the smaller 5-inch Pixel, available for preorder today. Mark Gurman of Bloomberg shares the inside story of how these phones were conceived.

Researchers Restore the First Recording of Computer-Generated Music ( 127

BoxRec writes: Alan Turing was part of a team who created the earliest known recording of music produced by a computer. It starts with a few bars of God Save the Queen, a snippet of Baa Baa Black Sheep and then Glenn Miller's swing hit In The Mood. The recording was captured by the BBC in the Autumn of 1951 on a 12-inch (30.5cm) acetate disc. But when Professor Jack Copeland of the University of Canterbury in Christchurch and composer Jason Long discovered the disc, the audio on the disc had been distorted. In a blog post for the British Library, Copeland and Long said it "gave at best only a rough impression of how the computer sounded." BBC News reports: "By analyzing the recording, Copeland and Long realized it was playing at the wrong speed, possibly as a result of the recorder's turntable running too quickly as the acetate was cut. As they knew the notes the computer was actually capable of playing, the pair were able to calculate exactly by how much the recording needed to be speeded up in order to exactly match the sound made by the Ferranti Mark 1. They also removed extraneous noise from the recording -- though not the engineer's voice. 'It was a beautiful moment when we first heard the true sound of Turing's computer,' Copeland and Long wrote. Now anyone can hear it in all its somewhat ramshackle glory."
Operating Systems

Apple To Make macOS Sierra Available As Automatic Download Beginning Today ( 132

Remember how Microsoft was pushing Windows 10 updates to your computers? That surely made a lot of people furious. Today, Apple told The Loop that it will also begin automatic download of its latest desktop operating system update, macOS Sierra on Macs that are compatible with the new software -- provided, automatic downloads are switched on and the Mac has enough storage space. From the report: t's important to note that this is not an automatic installer -- this process will only download the update in the background, and then alert you that it is available to install. You can choose to install it when its convenient. You can also choose to ignore the update. [...] Of course, you can manually delete the download if you don't wish to upgrade, and you can choose to manually download the update from the App Store at any time.

Google, Lagging Amazon, Races Across the Threshold Into the Home ( 52

Google will unveil its answer to Amazon's Echo at an event on Tuesday, the New York Times reports. The Google Home device, which looks like an "air freshener," is expected to go on sale later this month (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternate source), the publication added. The Google Home is powered by what Google calls Assistant, which uses "artificial intelligence" to understand what users are saying and respond conversationally with the best answers. "Amazon is the accidental winner here," Scott Galloway, a professor of marketing at the Stern School of Business at New York University, told the paper. "Amazon got there first, which is superimpressive, and it has been a huge hit." From the report: Google is a leader in natural language processing -- the ability to turn spoken words into terms that computers can digest -- and its search engine is the starting point for how most people get answers on the internet. In fact, the company says 20 percent of Google searches on mobile phones are done by voice. So why didn't Google create an Echo-like device before Amazon? In part, Google was hindered by a balkanized structure that prevented different groups within the company from working together, according to four current and former employees. Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., had a large team working on voice search but its focus was on an app for smartphones. The company had a separate team working on the Android operating system, which runs on smartphones, tablets and internet-connected home devices, and they were building virtual assistant technology into mobile devices.Google is also expected to launch two new smartphones, expected to be called Pixel and Pixel XL. Earlier today, both the phones showed up on a retailer's website, revealing their specifications. The Guardian reports: The leaked images show two sizes of the phone -- a regular and "XL" version, USB-C fast charging, a new interface, video calling and the Google Assistant, which first launched within the company's Allo messaging app. Both devices will have 32GB or 128GB of storage, 4GB of RAM, Qualcomm's latest 821 processor, AMOLED screens, fingerprint scanners on the back, an eight-megapixel selfie camera and a 12-megapixel camera on the back with optical image stabilisation, according to the smartphone retailers listings which have since been removed.

Facebook Releases Messenger Lite For People On Slower Networks and With Old and Basic Android Phones ( 79

Facebook has launched a slimmed-down version of its popular Messenger app in an effort to appeal to its users in countries with slower internet access. The app is called Messenger Lite, and it is also aimed at users who have basic Android smartphones. From a CNET article: Facebook Messenger Lite takes up a much smaller amount of a phone's storage --just 10 megabytes -- than the full-fat app that most users have installed on their phones, and it has been pared back so that it runs nippily over slower than average network speeds. It is the companion app to Facebook Lite, a stripped-down version of the social network, also for old Android phones, launched in 2015. The app's launch is one cog in the wheel of Facebook's strategy to make the social network and the internet as a whole more accessible to users in the developing world. One of Facebook's stated aims is to bring the next 3 billion people online and it has a number of initiatives to that end, including, Free Basics and its Lite apps.
Data Storage

Vint Cerf Warns About the Perishability Of Human Knowledge ( 348

Vint Cerf "worries about the decreasing longevity of our media, and, thus, about our ability as a civilization to self-document -- to have a historical record that one day far in the future might be remarked upon and learned from." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Motherboard: Magnetic films do not quite have the staying power as clay tablets. Clay tablets are more resilient than papyrus manuscripts are more resilient than parchment are more resilient than printed photographs are more resilient than digital photographs. At stake, according to Cerf, is "the possibility that the centuries well before ours will be better known than ours will be unless we are persistent about preserving digital content.

"The earlier media seem to have a kind of timeless longevity while modern media from the 1800s forward seem to have shrinking lifetimes. Just as the monks and Muslims of the Middle Ages preserved content by copying into new media, won't we need to do the same for our modern content...? Unless we face this challenge in a direct way, the truly impressive knowledge we have collectively produced in the past 100 years or so may simply evaporate with time."

He points out that much of this century's digital documents can't be viewed without software. Do we need to start carving our web pages into clay tablets?
Data Storage

With HDDs On The Ropes, Samsung Predicts SSD Price Collisions As NVMe Takes Over ( 161

At its Global SSD Summit, Samsung shared its vision of the current state of SSD market and also outlined the future trends. The company noted that SSDs are steadily displacing HDDs in more applications, but NVMe is shaping up to be the dark horse that may put the venerable HDD to rest. From an article on Tom's Hardware: Samsung loves Google, and not just because it probably buys plenty of its SSDs. Samsung outlined its rather intense focus on Google Analytics for marketing purposes last year, and this year it pointed out that recent Google searches for "SSD upgrades" outweighed searches for "CPU upgrades." The historical trend indicates that this wasn't always the case (of course), but with 40 million searches for SSD upgrades this year, it is clear that SSDs are on the move. Performance stagnation in the CPU market is probably to blame here, as well, and we routinely advise readers to spend their hard-earned dollars on GPU and SSD upgrades before the CPU. The cellphone industry has long served as the prime example of an explosive growth market; it grew 19.1% in the last five years alone. SSDs, by contrast, grew 54%, and the steady downward pricing slope is a key factor. The all-important price-per-GB fell from $1.17 in 2012 to a mere $0.36 in 2016 (69% reduction). This is an average value, you can find SSDs for even less on the retail market. The SSD market grew 6x (to 130,000,000) from 2012 to 2016. Samsung's NAND shipments benefit from both the smartphone and SSD industries, and the company presented a chart that highlighted the changing NAND shipment mix. A higher percentage of flash heads into the SSD and Mobile segments every year as the percentage of UFD (USB Flash Drive), cards, and "others" decline.
Open Source

Linux Mint Unveils New 'Mintbox Mini Pro' Desktop ( 70

It's been 18 months since the original Mintbox Mini launched, and this week saw the release of the new Mintbox Mini Pro (which costs just $100 more). BrianFagioli quotes BetaNews: That extra money gets you a faster processor, more powerful graphics, double the storage, twice the RAM, improved Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and an additional Ethernet port... This diminutive desktop is the same size as the previously-released Mintbox... Thankfully, it retains the same cute appearance and Linux Mint branding.
Their article calls it a "beautiful little computer that comes pre-loaded with Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon (64-bit)," and the Linux Mint blog promises this fanless device offers "better passive cooling thanks to an all-metal black housing" -- and comes with six different USB ports.

Windows 10 Will Soon Run Edge In a Virtual Machine To Keep You Safe ( 172

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Microsoft has announced that the next major update to Windows 10 will run its Edge browser in a lightweight virtual machine. Running the update in a virtual machine will make exploiting the browser and attacking the operating system or compromising user data more challenging. Called Windows Defender Application Guard for Microsoft Edge, the new capability builds on the virtual machine-based security that was first introduced last summer in Windows 10. Windows 10's Virtualization Based Security (VBS) uses small virtual machines and the Hyper-V hypervisor to isolate certain critical data and processes from the rest of the system. The most important of these is Credential Guard, which stores network credentials and password hashes in an isolated virtual machine. This isolation prevents the popular MimiKatz tool from harvesting those password hashes. In turn, it also prevents a hacker from breaking into one machine and then using stolen credentials to spread to other machines on the same network. Credential Guard's virtual machine is very small and lightweight, running only a relatively simple process to manage credentials. Application Guard will go much further by running large parts of the Edge browser within a virtual machine. This virtual machine won't, however, need a full operating system running inside it -- just a minimal set of Windows features required to run the browser. Because Application Guard is running in a virtual machine it will have a much higher barrier between it and the host platform. It can't see other processes, it can't access local storage, it can't access any other installed applications, and, critically, it can't attack the kernel of the host system. In its first iteration, Application Guard will only be available for Edge. Microsoft won't provide an API or let other applications use it. As with other VBS features, Application Guard will also only be available to users of Windows 10 Enterprise, with administrative control through group policies. Administrators will be able to mark some sites as trusted, and those sites won't use the virtual machine. Admins also be able to control whether untrusted sites can use the clipboard or print.

Plex Cloud Means Saying Goodbye To the Always-On PC ( 173

Finally, you don't need an always-on PC or any other network-attached storage device if you want to use Plex's media player. The company has announced that it now allows you to stream TV shows and movies from your own collection via a new online option called Plex Cloud. From a report on The Verge: Plex is giving the world another reason to subscribe to Plex Pass subscriptions today with the launch of Plex Cloud. As the name suggests, Plex Cloud eliminates the need to run the Plex Media Server on a computer or Networked Attached Storage (NAS) in your house. It does, however, require a subscription to Amazon Drive ($59.99 per year for unlimited storage) and the aforementioned Plex Pass ($4.99 per month or $39.99 per year). Plex Cloud functions just like a regular Plex Media Server giving you access to your media -- no matter how you acquire it -- from an incredibly broad range of devices. Most, but not all Plex features are available in today's beta.

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