Google uses entirely re-usable energy

Kyocera floating solar raftsSearch engine outfit Google says it is close to having its entire power bill paid for by using renewable energy.

Google has a power bill which would make most people wince with more data centres than you can poke a stick at. It said that its engineers have spent years perfecting Google’s data centres, making them 50 percent more energy efficient than the industry average.

“ But we still need a lot of energy to power the products and services that our users depend on. We began purchasing renewable energy to reduce our carbon footprint and address climate change — but it also makes business sense,” the outfit said.

However apparently thanks to spending a fortune on solar and wind powered systems, Google will reach 100 percent renewable energy for its global operations — including data centres and offices.

“We were one of the first corporations to create large-scale, long-term contracts to buy renewable energy directly; we signed our first agreement to purchase all the electricity from a 114-megawatt wind farm in Iowa, in 2010. Today, we are the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable power, with commitments reaching 2.6 gigawatts (2,600 megawatts) of wind and solar energy. That’s bigger than many large utilities and more than twice as much as the 1.21 gigawatts it took to send Marty McFly back to the future,” Google announced.

Some of this was possible because over the last six years, the cost of wind and solar came down 60 percent and 80 percent, respectively, proving that renewables are increasingly becoming the lowest cost option.

It has cost Google more than $3.5 billion globally, and the projects generate tens of millions of dollars per year in revenue to local property owners, and tens of millions more to local and national governments in tax revenue.

Supremes back Samsung against Apple

supremesThe US Supreme Court backed Samsung in the great battle over the rounded rectangle smartphone.

It threw out an appeals court ruling that the South Korean company had to pay a $399 million penalty to its American rival for copying key iPhone designs.

The 8-0 ruling, written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, held that a patent violator does not always have to fork over its entire profits from the sales of products using stolen designs, if the designs covered only certain components and not the whole thing.

The justices sent the case back to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington to determine how much Samsung must pay. But they did not provide a road map to juries and lower courts on how to navigate similar disputes in the future.

Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock said in a statement that the U.S. company remained “optimistic that the lower courts will again send a powerful signal that stealing isn’t right”.

Samsung said that the ruling was a “victory for Samsung and for all those who promote creativity, innovation and fair competition in the marketplace”.

For those who came in in late a 2012 jury verdict favoured the tax-dodging cargo cult and hit Samsung initially with nearly $930 million in penalties, later cut by $382 million, for infringing Apple’s iPhone patents and mimicking its distinctive “rounded rectangle” appearance.

Samsung in December 2015 paid its Cupertino, California-based rival $548 million but Samsung took the matter to the Supreme Court, saying it should not have had to make $399 million of that payout for copying the patented designs of the iPhone’s rounded-corner front face, bezel and colourful grid of icons that represent programs and applications.

Apple wanted more cash because Samsung presented no evidence that the article of manufacture in this case was anything less than its entire smartphone as sold. Samsung, meanwhile, said that it did not have to present such evidence as it was bloody obvious.

Samsung argued that it should not have had to turn over all its profits, saying that design elements contributed only marginally to a complex product with thousands of patented features.

The Supremes agreed completely and said that the term “article of manufacture was broad enough to encompass both a product sold to a consumer as well as a component of that product”.

The justices nevertheless refused to devise a test for juries and lower courts to use to discern what a relevant article of manufacture is in a case, a task that could be fraught with difficulty when considering high-tech products.

iPhone 6 battery fault is coming in the air tonight – oh lord.

tumblr_mv4z33OR101qdqzl4o1_500Fruity tax-dodging cargo-cult Apple has come up with another of its legendary stupid reasons for its products to fail.

Before it has covered up its poor designs by claiming that users were “holding their phones wrong” but the latest excuse really must take the cake – it is blaming the air.

Those who paid a lot of cash for an iPhone 6 found that it was starting to switch itself off a year later – coincidently just before Apple launched its iPhone 7. The batteries could cause the phones to shutdown without warning, an issue that Apple now says was caused by overexposure to “controlled ambient air”.

Apple probably means they sat out in the open in some warehouse for longer than they should have. Even if this were the case you would think that the design genii at Apple could handle the Air, after all there is rather a lot of air out there.

Apple isn’t replacing those batteries just yet, but the company says that an iOS update “available next week” will add “additional diagnostic capability” that will allow Apple to better track down and diagnose the causes of these shutdowns. Yep it it is offering an air detector, we think even Apple could write software which could do that.

It “may potentially help Apple improve the algorithms used to manage battery performance and shutdown,” as well. Those improvements will be included in future iOS updates.

In the meantime don’t breathe on your iPhone 6, it is a delicate flower and does not like it.

Passport robot tells Asian bloke to open his eyes

A screenshot of New Zealand man Richard Lee's passport photo rejection notice, supplied to ReutersYou would think that a robot would not have a problem with race – after “all you humans look alike”.

But a Kiwi bloke of Asian descent had his passport photograph rejected when facial recognition software mistakenly registered his eyes as being closed.

Richard Lee’s attempt to renew his passport was blocked after he submitted the picture to an online passport photo checker run by New Zealand’s department of internal affairs.

The automated system told the 22-year-old engineering student the photo was invalid because his eyes were closed, even though they were clearly open.

Of course the story has now been posted on Facebook and the problem of racist robots made public.

Lee however does not blame the technology because it is a new thing and he is an engineer so he knows how pants these things can be when they first come out.

“It was a robot, no hard feelings. I got my passport renewed in the end.”

A NZ government spokesman said that up to 20 percent of passport photos submitted online are rejected for various reasons, an Internal Affairs spokesman said.

“The most common error is a subject’s eyes being closed and that was the generic error message sent in this case,” he said.

 

CEOs will replace you with a robot like a shot

humans-channel4-amc-sci-fi-tv-seriesA new study has revealed that most CEOs will replace their human staff with computers and AI the moment they get the chance.

Beancounters at Korn Ferry interviewed 800 business leaders across a variety of multi-million and multi-billion dollar global organisations. The firm says that 44 percent of the CEOs surveyed agreed that robotics, automation and AI would reshape the future of many work places by making people “largely irrelevant”.

Of course they are speaking as those who know they are irrelevant and just need to replace all the other staff workers while they still have the authority to do so.

The global managing director of solutions at Korn Ferry Jean-Marc Laouchez said that leaders were facing what experts call a tangibility bias.

“Facing uncertainty, they are putting priority in their thinking, planning and execution on the tangible — what they can see, touch and measure, such as technology instruments,” he said.

Many CEOs have allowed technology to occupy anywhere from 40 to 60 percent of their priorities when it comes to strategic focus, financial investment and their time.

The firm also compiled a list of the top five assets of companies which did not even list human talent as an asset and instead included Real Estate, Brand, Product / Service, R&D/ Innovation and Technology as the number one asset.

Laouchez offered his view on why human talent was not considered an asset by the CEOs surveyed, saying: “Putting an exact value on people is much more difficult, even though people directly influence the value of technology, innovation and products.”

While artificial intelligence and robotics will play a huge role in the future of business, Korn Ferry believes that CEOs should not undervalue the creativity and influence that people can bring to a business.

Perhaps they only do so because they lack any creativity themselves and spend most of their time inventing new buzzwords to justify their huge salaries and periodic corporate layoffs.

Microsoft creates Home Hub

1953-kitchenmaid-blue-kitchen-the-television-kitchen-cropped.0Software king of the world Microsoft has looked at the success of Amazon’s Echo and Google Home and decided “I want some of that.”

However, it is looking like Vole’s competitor to Amazon’s smart speaker Echo and Google Home is software and will be centred around the home PC.

Home Hub is a software update for Windows 10 that will make the Windows PC a bit more like a smart speaker.

Microsoft’s smart digital assistant Cortana can already answer your queries, even if the PC’s screen is locked. The Home Hub would add a special app with features such as calendar appointments, sticky notes and shopping lists.

A Home Hub-enabled PC might have a Welcome Screen, a full-screen app that displays all these, like a virtual fridge door.

Cortana would get more powerful on Home Hub and could  control smart home devices, such as lights and locks.

It will turn any Windows 10 device into the centre of a smart home and third-party manufacturers will be able to build devices that work with Home Hub.

It is expected that Microsoft will release the Home Hub next year. The advantage will be that most people still have a PC somewhere in their house.

Tame Apple Press tries to hawk the failed iWatch

dell boy The Tame Apple Press is flat out trying to flog the iWatch this Christmas, even though no one has been interested in the lame duck product all year.

Apple’s favourite new agency Reuters, once famous for printing credible stories, has run an advert as a news story where Apple’s Tim Cook making the extraordinary claim that the iWatch is going to be a sell out this Christmas.

He claimed, without a shred of proof, that sales of the Apple Watch to consumers set a record during the first week of holiday shopping, and the current quarter is on track to be the best for the product. Cook said the gadget’s sell-through reached a new high.

However, that all flies in the face of an IDC report that the tech giant sold 1.1 million units of the Apple Watch during the third quarter of 2016, down 71 percent from the year-ago quarter. Given that the Tame Apple press claimed that the gizmo would sell 40 million of them in the first year, the iWatch has been a total failure.  And yet Reuters seems to be spinning this failure as “a glimpse of the gadget’s performance during the holiday quarter”.

“Our data shows that Apple Watch is doing great and looks to be one of the most popular holiday gifts this year,” Cook claimed.

Reuters admitted that Cook did not respond to a request for specific sales figures for the gadget because that would have shown how bogus the whole story was.

Romans say embedding is not piracy

roman-mattressA Roman court has ruled that embedding does not constitute a copyright infringement.

The move overturns one of the 152 website blocks another court imposed last month, and ruled that that allowed the Italian site Kisstube to carry on as normal.

Kisstube is a YouTube channel, which also exists as a standalone website that does not host any content itself, linking instead to YouTube. Both the channel and website arrange content by categories for the convenience of users.

The Italian court’s decision was influenced by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) into an outfit called BestWater. In that case, the CJEU held that embedding or framing a video or image from another website is not copyright infringement if the latter is already accessible to the general public.

Another CJEU judgment, ruled that posting hyperlinks to pirated copies of material is only legal provided it is done without knowledge that they are unauthorised versions, and it is not carried out for financial gain.

The judge has assessed that there was no evidence of illegality of the link on Kisstube’s site, because it had received no “notice and takedown request”.

YouTube has a notice system based on the US DMCA, it was not interested in acting against Kisstube because there was no indication that the hyperlinks were to illegal material. Therefore it was not a pirate site and the BestWater ruling applied.

Canonical yells at European cloud provider

cloudOpen saucy outfit Canonical is in the middle of a legal dispute with an unnamed  “a European cloud provider” over the use of its  own homespun version of Ubuntu on their cloud servers.

Canonical is worried that the implementation disables even the most basic of security features and Canonical fears that when something bad happens, the great unwashed will not blame the cloud provider but will instead blame Ubuntu.

Writing in the company bog, Canonical said that it has spent months trying to get the unnamed provider to use the standard Ubuntu as delivered to other commercial operations to no avail. It said that Red Hat and Microsoft wouldn’t be treated like this.

Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu, wrote that Ubuntu is “the leading cloud OS, running most workloads in public clouds today,” whereas these homegrown images “are likely to behave unpredictably on update in weirdly creative and mysterious ways. We hear about these problems all the time, because users assume there is a problem with Ubuntu on that cloud; users expect that ‘all things that claim to be Ubuntu are genuine’, and they have a right to expect that.

“To count some of the ways we have seen home-grown images create operational and security nightmares for users: clouds have baked private keys into their public images, so that any user could SSH into any machine; clouds have made changes that then blocked security updates for over a week… When things like this happen, users are left feeling let down. As the company behind Ubuntu, it falls to Canonical to take action.”

Airport security is dumping ground for orphan laptops

orphansMore than 70 people left their laptops security checkpoints at Newark Liberty International Airport last month.

The TSA shared a snap of more than 70 unclaimed computers just sitting on a shelf all lonely, waiting to be claimed since October, at that one airport alone. What is weird is that no one claimed them, even though they knew that was the only logical place they could have left them.

Looking at the snap there are a rather large number of shiny MacBooks in that pile, which can cost in the $2,000 range new. However, it is possible that the business person realising that the MacBook really is pants for business has just taken the opportunity to leave it on someone else’s door step and get a proper computer instead.

The Tame Apple Press is  questioning how it is possible to leave a MacBook, which is so expensive and essential in an airport, and then failing to claim it for a full month. “We would never abandon you,” one “journalist” wrote.

Airport security is the ideal place to abandon an unwanted laptop. Your company will assume that if you never get it back it is simply because of some byzantine TSA security law and just issue you a new one without thinking. It also means that you don’t have to answer any questions about the laptop contents before you get on the plane.

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