Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Category: Technology

Here me out… SAILS

We’re going back to wood ships with sails for international trade. It’s “progress.”

To get on track to reach net zero emissions by 2050, international shipping will have to reduce its emissions by 15% by 2030. So far, emissions from the industry have been going more or less consistently in the other direction.


One way to reduce emissions from shipping is to introduce a very old technology: sails. Wind is a clean source of propulsion that is often in abundance at sea. Some shipbuilders are taking this inspiration from the past extremely seriously, and even making the structure of the ship out of wood.

Meta Follows Twitter

There is something unsettling about these companies monetizing identity. Where will it lead?

For $11.99 a month on the web and $14.99 a month on iOS, users on Meta’s Instagram and Facebook platforms will be able to submit their government ID and get a blue verification badge. The service will be introduced in Australia and New Zealand this week, and more countries will follow, Zuckerberg said.

“This new feature is about increasing authenticity and security across our services,” Zuckerberg wrote in the post.


Meta has historically granted verification to notable users like politicians, executives, members of the press and organizations to signal their legitimacy. The company’s new subscription service is similar to Twitter’s revamped service called Twitter Blue, which also grants users a verification badge if they pay a monthly fee.

Hackers Target Home Devices

It amazes me how many people take so little interest in securing devices like these. They seem to think that they are not able to be hacked. Here’s a rule of thumb… if it’s online, it can be hacked. If it’s not online, it can still be hacked, but the hacker needs physical access.

‘Digital burglaries’ where hackers virtually enter households via smart doorbells and webcams to snoop and steal are becoming more common, experts have warned.


Everything from thermostats to webcams, speakers and doorbells provides a way for cyber criminals to spy on families and steal data and money.


Experts told that hackers regard the devices as easy prey, and use them for everything from theft to stalking to screaming abuse at victims through their own doorbells.






Researchers Find Efficient Way to Extract Hydrogen from Seawater

I have much more optimism about widespread commercial use of hydrogen engines for energy than I do wind or solar. This is the kind of technology that should invite more investment.

Researchers at the University of Adelaide announced this week that they made clean hydrogen fuel from seawater without pre-treatment. Demand for hydrogen fuel, a clean energy source that only produces water when burned, is expected to increase in the coming years as the world (hopefully) continues to pivot away from fossil fuels. The findings could eventually provide cheaper green energy production to coastal areas.


“We have split natural seawater into oxygen and hydrogen with nearly 100 per cent efficiency, to produce green hydrogen by electrolysis, using a non-precious and cheap catalyst in a commercial electrolyser,” said Professor Shizhang Qiao, the team’s co-lead. Seawater typically needs to be purified before electrolysis splits it into hydrogen and oxygen. The team says its results, using cobalt oxide with chromium oxide on its surface as the catalyst, had similar performance to a standard process of applying platinum and iridium catalysts to highly purified and deionized water.

Compared to freshwater, seawater is an abundant resource, and the ability to extract hydrogen fuel from seawater without pre-treatment could save money. However, even if successfully scaled, it would likely only be practical for coastal communities with plenty of seawater — not so much for Iowa or Kansas.

Fueling Electric Vehicles Now More Expensive Than Gas Vehicles


No longer needing to buy gasoline is one of the most convincing selling points for potential electric vehicle customers. It’s easy to conclude that owning an EV and recharging at home is cheaper than using a car powered by an internal combustion engine. The conclusion is correct if a driver switches powertrains between luxury vehicles, like going from a Porsche Macan to an electric Porsche Taycan.


However, a recent report from the Anderson Economic Group (AEG) found that fueling costs from mid-priced ICE-powered vehicles are lower than similarly priced electric vehicles. Combustion drivers pay about $11.29 per 100 miles on the road. EV drivers who charge up at home spend about $11.60 per 100 miles. The price difference is more dramatic for those who mainly recharge at stations. Frequent charging station users pay $14.40 per 100 miles.

Biden’s Whale-Killing Machines

What a mess.

State leaders and the Biden administration have homed in on the industry because the power of offshore winds can produce a rare round-the-clock source of greenhouse-gas-free electricity – and one difficult for future administrations to undo once turbines are in the ground. The administration set a goal for 30 gigawatts of new power from offshore wind by 2030. That is about 3 percent of what the country needs to get to 80 percent clean electricity by that time, according to estimates from a team led by University of California at Berkeley researchers.


The industry paid more than $5 billion to the federal government for the right to build off the coast as the Biden administration made a large number of leases available last year. Some of the world’s largest energy companies, including BP, Shell, Equinor and Duke Energy, now plan to spend billions more constructing thousands of skyscraper-size turbines off America’s shores that will produce enough juice to power roughly 7 million homes, according to the American Clean Power Association, a renewable-energy trade group.


The nation’s first large-scale project began construction off the coast of Massachusetts a little more than a year ago, and surveying vessels are now charting the East Coast for the next wave of construction. That work is happening in the same area where a die-off of humpback whales began seven years ago and where scientists and federal officials are now working to prevent the North Atlantic right whale, one of the world’s most endangered marine mammals, from going extinct.


“We have an unprecedented amount of whales dying here at the same time there is this industrial activity taking place on a scale that has never before happened in these waters,” said Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action, a local nonprofit. “Why is this not being investigated? Why are these companies getting a pass?”


Achieving the Biden administration’s target would require the installation of thousands of the machines, which will tower as high as three Statues of Liberty stacked on top of one another when their blades reach for the sky. The blades alone can be the length of a football field.


But it has been slow going. There are only seven working offshore wind turbines in the entire United States at the moment. In Europe, there are more than 5,000. China also has thousands.

I doubt that the turbines are really killing whales, but it shows how difficult it is to get anything big done in America nowadays.

Lights Stuck On in School for Five Months


One of the cost-saving measures the school board insisted on was a “green lighting system” run on software installed by a company called 5th Light to control the lights in the building. The system was designed to save energy — and thus save money — by automatically adjusting the lights as needed.


But in August 2021, staffers at the school noticed that the lights were not dimming in the daytime and burning brightly through the night.


“The lighting system went into default,” said Osborne. “And the default position for the lighting system is for the lights to be on.”


Osborne said they immediately reached out to the original installer of the system only to discover that the company had changed hands several times since the high school was built. When they finally tracked down the current owner of the company, Reflex Lighting, several more weeks went by before the company was able to find somebody familiar with the high school’s lighting system, he said.

Sweden Finds Huge Rare Earth Mineral Deposit

Wow. If true, this eliminates a major geopolitical lever that China currently has.

Swedish government-owned mine operator LKAB on Thursday announced the discovery of a major rare earth mineral deposit in the northern city of Kiruna, potentially significantly reducing reliance on China for electric vehicle components.


The deposit, the largest such discovery in Europe, is equivalent to more than 1 million metric tons of rare earth oxides, according to LKAB.


“This is the largest known deposit of rare earth elements in our part of the world, and it could become a significant building block for producing the critical raw materials that are absolutely crucial to enable the green transition. We face a supply problem. Without mines, there can be no electric vehicles,” LKAB President and CEO Jan Moström said in a statement.


The discovery could be a game-changer for Europe, which currently has no rare earth mining operations and is entirely dependent on Chinese imports for the metals, which are used in the manufacture of wind turbines and electric cars. As of 2020, 99 percent of rare earth imports to the European Union came from China.

Flights Grounded

The basic functions of government are breaking down.

All US domestic flights have been grounded for several hours because of a glitch with the flight control system.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says there is a problem with the system that alerts pilots to potential hazards on flight routes.


It is working to restore it but says no flights will take off until at least 0900 ET (1400 GMT).


In a statement, the FAA said some functions were beginning to come back online, and would give updates later.

It was not immediately clear if the outage would impact international flights.


US President Joe Biden has been briefed about the outage, and the White House said there was no evidence of a cyberattack “at this point”.

In a tweet, the White House Press Secretary said the President had called for a “full investigation into the causes”.

The FAA said the problem lies with its Notice to Air Missions System.

Meta Settles

Remember this? Given the Twitter files, it almost seems quaint now.

Facebook owner Meta has agreed to pay $725m (£600m) to settle legal action over a data breach linked to political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

The long-running dispute accused the social media giant of allowing third parties, including the British firm, to access Facebook users’ personal data.


The proposed sum is the largest in a US data privacy class action, lawyers say.

Meta, which did not admit wrongdoing, said it had “revamped” its approach to privacy over the past three years.

Leftists Remember that Free Speech is Important

Perhaps it took Musk actually pushing back to get Leftists to defend free speech again. Forgive me if I doubt their sincerity. They were silent when conservatives were being banned.

Stéphane Dujarric said on Friday the UN was “very disturbed” by the barring of prominent tech reporters at news organisations including CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times who have written about Musk and the tech company he owns.

Dujarric said media voices should not be silenced on a platform that professed to be a haven for freedom of speech. “The move sets a dangerous precedent at a time when journalists all over the world are facing censorship, physical threats and even worse,” he told reporters.

Orion Returns


NASA’s Orion spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, west of Baja California, at 9:40 a.m. PST Sunday after a record-breaking mission, traveling more than 1.4 million miles on a path around the Moon and returning safely to Earth, completing the Artemis I flight test.


Splashdown is the final milestone of the Artemis I mission that began with a successful liftoff of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket Nov. 16, from Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Over the course of 25.5 days, NASA tested Orion in the harsh environment of deep space before flying astronauts on Artemis II.


“The splashdown of the Orion spacecraft – which occurred 50 years to the day of the Apollo 17 Moon landing – is the crowning achievement of Artemis I. From the launch of the world’s most powerful rocket to the exceptional journey around the Moon and back to Earth, this flight test is a major step forward in the Artemis Generation of lunar exploration,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “It wouldn’t be possible without the incredible NASA team. For years, thousands of individuals have poured themselves into this mission, which is inspiring the world to work together to reach untouched cosmic shores. Today is a huge win for NASA, the United States, our international partners, and all of humanity.”


During the mission, Orion performed two lunar flybys, coming within 80 miles of the lunar surface. At its farthest distance during the mission, Orion traveled nearly 270,000 miles from our home planet, more than 1,000 times farther than where the International Space Station orbits Earth, to intentionally stress systems before flying crew.

Yes, I am fully versed in the relative costs and benefits of government, private, and hybrid space ventures and all of the controversies therein. But give this lifelong space nerd just a few minutes to sit back and say, “cool.”

Poland Chooses U.S. To Build Nuclear Power Plant

Great. Now can we build more in America?

Poland has chosen the U.S. government and Westinghouse to build the central European country’s first nuclear power plant, part of an effort to burn less coal and gain greater energy independence.


Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said late Friday on Twitter that Poland would use the “reliable, safe technology” of the Westinghouse Electric Company for the plant in Pomerania province near the Baltic Sea coast. The exact location remains to be identified.


A strong Poland-U.S. alliance “guarantees the success of our joint initiatives,” Morawiecki said.

Musk Carries Sink into Twitter HQ

What a goof. Presumably this is so he will have it to throw out when the deal closes.

With just a few more days left to complete his acquisition of Twitter and stave off a new court date, billionaire Elon Musk walked into the company’s San Francisco office on Wednesday with what appeared to be a porcelain bathroom sink in his hands.


“Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in!” the Tesla and SpaceX CEO tweeted with a video of his entrance.

A person at the company confirmed to CNBC that Elon was visiting today, and noted that there is some internal concern about what will happen to people on foreign-worker visas. This person, who declined to be named discussing internal matters, said that employees are trying to keep working despite all the attention being paid to the deal, and despite reports that Musk could gut the place with massive layoffs. Some employees say they feel like if he buys it, he can “burn it all down if he wants to.”

Yes. Yes he will. He will own the company and can do what he wants with it. I’m not a fan of everything Musk does, but I do like that he is one of the increasingly rare business owners who isn’t afraid to act like one.

Man Prints Guns to Sell at Gun Buyback Program


ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York’s attorney general has changed the rules of a state gun buyback program after a participant exploited the system by using a 3D printer to make firearm parts in bulk that he then turned in for $21,000 in gift cards.


The seller, who identified himself by a pseudonym, said he traveled from West Virginia to a gun buyback Aug. 27 in Utica, New York, to take advantage of a loophole in the program — and to demonstrate that buybacks are futile in an era of printable weapons.


At the buyback, he turned in 60 printed auto sears, small devices that can convert firearms into fully automatic weapons. Under the rules of the buyback, hosted by Attorney General Letitia James’ office and city police, that entitled him to $350 for each of the printed parts, including a $100 premium, since they were deemed “ghost guns” lacking serial numbers.

Hackers Hit IHG

Given the damage that hackers do, I do think that the criminal penalties should be much, much higher.

Hackers have told the BBC they carried out a destructive cyber-attack against Holiday Inn owner Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) “for fun”.

Describing themselves as a couple from Vietnam, they say they first tried a ransomware attack, then deleted large amounts of data when they were foiled.


They accessed the FTSE 100 firm’s databases thanks to an easily found and weak password, Qwerty1234.

An expert says the case highlights the vindictive side of criminal hackers.



“Our attack was originally planned to be a ransomware but the company’s IT team kept isolating servers before we had a chance to deploy it, so we thought to have some funny [sic]. We did a wiper attack instead,” one of the hackers said.

Zuckerberg Confirms FBI and Big Tech Collusion

Confirmation that the FBI and Big Tech colluded to suppress information during the election.

Zuckerberg said Facebook enacted a policy of ‘decreased distribution’ to deliberately push down the story on people’s newsfeeds to limit its reach, while Twitter went even further and banned the story from its platform.


The billionaire said: ‘I think it was five or seven days when it was basically being determined whether it was false. The distribution on Facebook was decreased, but people were still allowed to share it. So you could still share it. You could still consume it.’


Three weeks before the election, the New York Post revealed the sordid contents of Hunter’s laptop, showing compromising photos of the then presidential candidate’s son and his questionable business dealings implicating his father.


The huge cache of files, emails and photos was seen by many as a smoking gun that could have turned the tide in the election, but social media bosses at Facebook and Twitter minimized the story for unfounded fears it could be Russian misinformation. independently verified the laptop with a forensic analysis by top cyber experts and has been regularly publishing revelations ever since, while many other news outlets refused to touch the story.


But now, Zuckerberg has openly admitted how he tried to limit the electorate from accessing the stories in a terrifying insight into how easily democracy can be undermined by tech firms.

Space Force Deploys Robot Dogs

This is the start of a bad sci-fi horror flick.

The Space Force has conducted a demonstration using dog-like quadruped unmanned ground vehicles (Q-UGVs) for security patrols and other repetitive tasks. The demonstration used at least two Vision 60 Q-UGVs, or “robot dogs,” built by Ghost Robotics and took place at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on July 27 and 28.

According to a statement(opens in new tab) from the Department of Defense, Space Launch Delta 45 will use the robot dogs for “damage assessments and patrol to save significant man hours.” The unit is responsible for all space launch operations from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral.

A Ghost Robotics, Vision 60 Quadruped Unmanned Ground Vehicle (Q-UGV) is operated during a demo for 45th Security Forces Squadron at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla., July 28, 2022.

A Ghost Robotics, Vision 60 Quadruped Unmanned Ground Vehicle (Q-UGV) is operated during a demo for 45th Security Forces Squadron at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla., July 28, 2022. (Image credit: U.S. Space Force photo by Senior Airman Samuel Becker)

Hope for Cancer Cure?

It’s a small sample, but dare we hope?

A new colorectal cancer drug has shocked researchers with how effective it is against the highly dangerous disease, as it virtually cured it in every member of a clinical trial.


Dostarlimab, a monoclonal antibody drug, smashed expectations in a recent trial sponsored by pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).


A year after the trial’s completion, each of the 18 participants had their disease go into complete remission, with doctors unable to find signs of the cancer in their body.

While the trial was small, it is game-changing, and sets up the drug as a potential cure for one of the most dangerous common cancers known.



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