By BeauHD from Slashdot's but-at-what-cost department
dryriver writes: BBC Future reports on a geoengineering technique called "marine cloud brightening" that makes marine Stratocumulus clouds -- which currently reflect almost 30% of total Solar radiation back into space -- whiter, causing them to reflect more sunlight away from earth. Professor Stephen Salter of Edinburgh University, a well-known 1970s wave and tidal power pioneer, has designed an unmanned hydro-foil ship, computer-controlled and wind-powered, which pumps an ultra-fine mist of sea salt toward the cloud layer, causing it to turn white: "'Spraying about 10 cubic meters per second could undo all the [global warming] damage we've done to the world up until now,' Salter claims. And, he says, the annual cost would be less than the cost to host the annual UN Climate Conference -- between $100-$200 million each year. Salter calculates that a fleet of 300 of his autonomous ships could reduce global temperatures by 1.5C. He also believes that smaller fleets could be deployed to counter-act regional extreme weather events. Hurricane seasons and El Nino, exacerbated by high sea temperatures, could be tamed by targeted cooling via marine cloud brightening. Salter boasts that 160 of his ships could 'moderate an El Nino event, and a few hundred [would] stop hurricanes.' The same could be done, he says, to protect large coral reefs such as the Great Barrier Reef, and even cool the polar regions to allow sea ice to return. So, what's the catch? Well, there's a very big catch indeed. The potential side-effects of solar geoengineering on the scale needed to slow hurricanes or cool global temperatures are not well understood. According to various theories, it could prompt droughts, flooding, and catastrophic crop failures. Another major concern is that geoengineering could be used as an excuse to slow down emissions reduction, meaning CO2 levels continue to rise and oceans continue to acidify -- which, of course, brings its own serious problems."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's financially-stable department
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a call with reporters Thursday that the company will only sell its vehicles online. As a result, the electric carmaker will close most of its stores over the "next few months." The Verge reports: Tesla will keep some of its retail locations open, which the company described as "a small number of stores in high-traffic locations remaining as galleries, showcases and Tesla information centers." The decision to shift away from brick-and-mortar retail is necessary if the company is to remain financially sustainable, Tesla said. The company's finances have stabilized somewhat in recent months, but Tesla still operates on very tight margins. Tesla said in a blog post: "You can now buy a Tesla in North America via your phone in about 1 minute, and that capability will soon be extended worldwide. We are also making it much easier to try out and return a Tesla, so that a test drive prior to purchase isn't needed. You can now return a car within 7 days or 1,000 miles for a full refund. Quite literally, you could buy a Tesla, drive several hundred miles for a weekend road trip with friends and then return it for free."
The company announced the move at the same time it said it will finally begin to sell its long-promised $35,000 Model 3.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's better-late-than-never department
In a call with reporters Thursday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company is finally launching the long-promised standard Model 3 with a base price of $35,000. "The automaker is now making several new versions of the Model 3 available with a shorter range and new interior options," reports Electrek. From the report: Today, Tesla sent an email to its retail stores the details of the announcement of the new options being available to order in the U.S. today and available as soon as next month. All the details are expected to become available in the next hour, but here's what we know so far: Customers are now able to order the $35,000 Model 3 with a standard interior and standard battery pack enabling 130mph top speed and 5.6s 0-60s acceleration. Tesla is also making a new "Partial Premium Interior" with better seats than the standard interior available with a different "standard range plus" battery pack for a $2,000 premium. The Model 3 Standard Range Plus results in 240 miles of range, a top speed of 140mph, 0-60mph acceleration of just 5.3 seconds. Tesla says that deliveries are starting within the next 2 to 4 weeks depending on the configuration in the U.S. In Europe, Musk said it will be available to order within the "next 3 to 6 months."
Slashdot reader Rei provides additional details: The new unveiling introduced a whole slew of variants, including (price, range, top speed, 0-60, premium):
SR: $35K, 220 miles, 130mph, 5.6 seconds, non-PUP
SR+: $37K, 240 miles, 140mph, 5.3 seconds, partial-PUP
MR: $40K, 264 miles, 140mph, 5.2 seconds, PUP
LR: $43K, 325 miles, 140mph, 5.0 seconds, PUP
AWD: $47K, 310 miles, 145mph, 4.5 seconds, PUP
P: $48K, 310 miles, 162mph, 3.2 seconds, PUP
< article continued at Slashdot's better-late-than-never department
>Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's natively-supported department
The Polestar 2 is the first all-electric car from Volvo, and the first car to feature Google's new native version of Android Auto. Billed as a competitor to Tesla's Model 3, "the Polestar 2 should be able to travel up to 275 miles (about 443 kilometers) on a single charge thanks to a 78kWh battery that makes up the entire floor of the car," reports The Verge. "It will be quick, too; Polestar says there's 300kW (about 408 horsepower) to play with, spread across dual electric motors. That all-wheel drive power should help the car get from 0 to 60 miles per hour in under 5 seconds." From the report: All this will eventually cost about 39,900 euros, or about $45,000, at the cheapest. Polestar will sell versions of the car that cost as much as 59,900 euros, or about $68,000. But none of that will happen until the second year of production. The version available when the car launches later this year will cost $63,000, and Polestar will make only that "launch edition" car for the first 12 months. Pre-orders are open now, and production begins next year in China (where Volvo's Chinese parent company Geely is headquartered). Polestar's launching the car with in an ambitious slate of markets, too: China, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Belgium.
< article continued at Slashdot's natively-supported department
>Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's greater-good department
Mozilla wants to make it easier for startups, researchers, and hobbyists to build voice-enabled apps, services, and devices. From a report: Toward that end, it's today releasing the latest version of Common Voice, its open source collection of transcribed voice data that now comprises over 1,400 hours of voice samples from 42,000 contributors across 18 languages, including English, French, German, Dutch, Hakha-Chin, Esperanto, Farsi, Basque, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Welsh, and Kabyle. It's one of the largest multi-language dataset of its kind, Mozilla claims -- substantially larger than the Common Voice corpus it made publicly available eight months ago, which contained 500 hours (400,000 recordings) from 20,000 volunteers in English -- and the corpus will soon grow larger still. The organization says that data collection efforts in 70 languages are actively underway via the Common Voice website and mobile apps.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Every once in a while, we see Netflix test new plans in certain markets, and most of them involve price hikes. The same goes for the latest test that was spotted over in Italy, where the streaming giant is toying with a couple of different scenarios. First spotted by Italian-language blog SmartWorld, the tests suggest that Netflix is toying with the idea of either raising Standard and Premium subscription, or increasing all of its prices across the board.
Right now the default monthly Netflix streaming prices for Italy and other countries in the European Union are at Euro 7.99, or ~$9.1 (Base), Euro 10.99, or ~$12.5 (Standard), and Euro 13.99, or $16 (Premium). One of the tests that Netflix is currently conducting proposes that the Base subscription stays the same, but the Standard and Premium plans go up to Euro 12.99, or ~$14.8 and Euro 17.99, or ~$20.5 respectively.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Even San Francisco's tech chops can't save it from relying on computers that belong in a museum. From a report: The only place in San Francisco still pricing real estate like it's the 1980s is the city assessor's office. Its property tax system dates back to the dawn of the floppy disk. City employees appraising the market work with software that runs on a dead programming language and can't be used with a mouse. Assessors are prone to make mistakes when using the vintage software because it can't display all the basic information for a given property on one screen. The staffers have to open and exit several menus to input stuff as simple as addresses. To put it mildly, the setup "doesn't reflect business needs now," says the city's assessor, Carmen Chu.
San Francisco rarely conjures images of creaky, decades-old technology, but that's what's running a key swath of its government, as well as those of cities across the U.S. Politicians can often score relatively easy wins with constituents by borrowing money to pay for new roads and bridges, but the digital equivalents of such infrastructure projects generally don't draw the same enthusiasm. "Modernizing technology is not a top issue that typically comes to mind when you talk to taxpayers and constituents on the street," Chu says. It took her office almost four years to secure $36 million for updated assessors' hardware and software that can, among other things, give priority to cases in which delays may prove costly. The design requirements are due to be finalized this summer.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
The results of a new study suggest that listening to music can significantly impair your ability to perform creative tasks. Whilst music was found to disrupt creative processes, ambient "library noise" was found to have no significant effect. From a report: The first experiment saw volunteers complete tasks while being played music with vocals that wouldn't mean anything to them -- for example, English-speaking listeners being played music with Spanish lyrics. In the second experiment, the participants were played instrumental music with no vocals, and in the third the volunteers were played music with familiar lyrics that they could understand. During the third experiment, the participants were also subjected to "library noise" conditions, which involved ambient noise such as unintelligible distant speech, photocopier noise, typing, and the rustling of papers.
The team discovered that creative performance dropped significantly when listening to music over the course of all three exercises, as compared to periods during which participants were allowed to complete the exercises without distraction. Even when participants declared that the music improved their overall mood, in the third exercise, it still impaired creativity.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's missed-revenue department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: As many as 1 in 5 people today are mooching off of someone else's account when streaming video from Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Video, according to a new study from CordCutting.com. Of these, Netflix tends to be pirated for the longest period -- 26 months, compared with 16 months for Amazon Prime Video or 11 months for Hulu. That could be because Netflix freeloaders often mooch off their family instead of a friend -- 48 percent use their parents' login, while another 14 percent use their sister or brother's credentials, the firm found. At a base price of $7.99 per month (the study was performed before Netflix's January 2019 price increase), freeloading users could save $207.74 over a 26-month period. At scale, these losses can add up, the study claims.
The report estimates Netflix could be losing $192 million in monthly revenue from piracy -- more than either Amazon or Hulu, at $45 million per month and $40 million per month, respectively. Millennials, not surprisingly, account for much of the freeloading. They're the largest demographic pirating Netflix (18 percent) and Hulu's service (20 percent). But oddly, it was Baby Boomers who were more likely to borrow someone else's account to access Amazon Prime Video. According to the study, 59.3 percent said they would pay for Netflix (or around 14 million people), contributing at least $112 million in monthly revenue, if they lost access. And 37.8 percent, or 2 million, said they'd pay for Hulu; 27.6 percent, or 1 million people, said they'd pay for Prime Video.Read Replies (0)