Tech News Feed

US Funds Consortium to Explore Cheaper, More Efficienct CdTe Solar Cells

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-08-06 14:34
The largest funder of clean energy in America is its federal Department of Energy. And the second-most common photovoltaic technology in the world (after silicon) is cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cells. So this week the U.S. Department of Energy announced an initiative to improve them, aspiring to make CdTe cells "less expensive, more efficient and develop new markets for solar cell products." Without strengthened domestic manufacturing capacity, the U.S. will continue to rely on clean energy imports, exposing the nation to supply chain vulnerabilities while simultaneously losing out on the enormous job opportunities associated with the energy transition. The Cadmium Telluride Accelerator Consortium's efforts to spur technological advancements will increase America's competitiveness, bolster domestic innovation, and support clean electricity deployment supporting President Biden's goal of achieving a net-zero economy by 2050.... To achieve these goals, the team has a broad research plan that includes CdTe doping strategies, characterizing and exploring new CdTe contacting materials, and work to enable a bifacial CdTe module that absorbs light from the front and back of the module. DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will administer the consortium, whose leaders were chosen through a competitive solicitation NREL released last year. The consortium will be led by the University of Toledo, First Solar, Colorado State University, Toledo Solar Inc., and Sivananthan Laboratories, Inc. NREL will serve as a resource, support, and technical analysis center as the consortium develops a technology roadmap, conducts research to meet targets set within the roadmap, and regularly assesses the domestic CdTe supply chain for challenges and opportunities. Specific goals on the consoritum's web site include: Enable cell efficiencies above 24% and module costs below $0.20/W by 2025 Enable cell efficiencies above 26% and module costs below $0.15/W by 2030 Maintain or increase domestic CdTe PV material and module production through 2030.

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Biden Tests Negative for COVID After 'Rebound' Case - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-08-06 14:31
His physician says Biden feels fine but that he'll continue to isolate pending a second negative test.

Best Power Bank for iPhone for 2022 - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-08-06 14:00
Looking for a pocket-size power bank for iPhone charging on the go? Here are some top picks.

There Were 19 New GNU Releases Last Month

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-08-06 13:34
"Nineteen new GNU releases in the last month," reads a "July GNU Spotlight" announcement from the Free Software Foundation. Here's (edited and condensed) descriptions of some of the highlights: GNU Datamash (version 1.8) — a command-line program performing basic numeric, textual, and statistical operations on input textual data files (designed to work within standard pipelines). GNUnet (version 0.17.2) — a framework for secure peer-to-peer networking. "The high-level goal is to provide a strong foundation of free software for a global, distributed network that provides security and privacy. GNUnet in that sense aims to replace the current internet protocol stack. Along with an application for secure publication of files, it has grown to include all kinds of basic applications for the foundation of a GNU internet." GnuTLS (version 3.7.7) — A secure communications library implementing the SSL, TLS and DTLS protocols, provided in the form of a C library. Jami (version 20220726.1515.da8d1da) — a GNU package for universal communication that respects the freedom and privacy of its users, using distributed hash tables for establishing communication. ("This avoids keeping centralized registries of users and storing personal data.") LibreJS (version 7.21.0) — an add-on for GNU Icecat and other Firefox-based browsers that detects non-trivial and non-free JavaScript code from being loaded without your consent when you browse the web. "JavaScript code that is free or trivial is allowed to be loaded." GNU Nettle (version 3.8.1) — a low-level cryptographic library. It is designed to fit in easily in almost any context. It can be easily included in cryptographic toolkits for object-oriented languages or in applications themselves. GNU Octave (version 7.2.0) — a high-level interpreted language specialized for numerical computations, for both linear and non-linear applications and with great support for visualizing results. R (version 4.2.1) — a language and environment for statistical computing and graphics, along with robust support for producing publication-quality data plots. "A large amount of 3rd-party packages are available, greatly increasing its breadth and scope." TRAMP (version 2.5.3) — a GNU Emacs package allowing you to access files on remote machines as though they were local files. "This includes editing files, performing version control tasks and modifying directory contents with dired. Access is performed via ssh, rsh, rlogin, telnet or other similar methods." Click here to see the other new releases and download information. The FSF announcement adds that "A number of GNU packages, as well as the GNU operating system as a whole, are looking for maintainers and other assistance."

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Steam is finally adding support for Nintendo Joy-Con controllers

Engadget - Sat, 2022-08-06 13:17

Five years after the Nintendo Switch’s release, Valve is finally adding Steam support for the console’s controllers. In an announcement spotted by PC Gamer, the company said the latest Steam beta adds Joy-Cons support. With the new software, it’s possible to use Joy-Cons either individually or as part of a matched pair for playing games.

If you want to try the feature out, you need to opt into the Steam beta. You can do that by navigating to Steam’s Settings menu and clicking “Change” under the “Beta participation” heading. Keep in mind you’ll either need a Bluetooth adapter or a motherboard with Bluetooth connectivity to use your Joy-Cons with Steam since it’s not possible to connect the controller to your PC through a cable like you would most gamepads.

A Russian Military Satellite Appears to Be Stalking a New US Spy Satellite

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-08-06 12:34
When a U.S. satellite passed over Russia's Plesetsk Cosmodrome, a Russian satellite was launched close behind it "with capabilities unknown," reports the Drive, adding that it's now "getting suspiciously close..." Russia has launched satellite 14F150 Nivelir into orbit under a mission dubbed Kosmos-2558, and its current orbital path could soon place it in close proximity to what is reported to be the spy satellite designated USA-326. Unconfirmed rumors that the asset will serve as an 'inspector' satellite to covertly spy on nearby spacecraft have begun to circulate online following the launch and would line up with Russia's known on-orbit anti-satellite weapons capabilities and developments. Its exact purpose is unknown at present, but it has been described as an "inspector" satellite, a term that is often associated with so-called "killer satellites...." Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Center for Astrophysics, or @planet4589 on Twitter, has noted that Kosmos-2558's current orbital path will soon place it within 80 km of what is believed to be the USA 326 satellite. For reference, the Center for Astrophysics is a collaborative effort run jointly by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and Harvard College Observatory.... USA-326 was launched in February of this year by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket out of Vandenberg Space Force Base, its mission designated NROL-87, which is a classified national security operation led by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in partnership with SpaceX. A press release shared by the NRO following the initial launch claimed that NROL-87 was designed, built, and now operated by the NRO to support its "overhead reconnaissance mission," which is largely centered around protecting national security through the exploitation of space-based intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. Thanks to long-time Slashdot reader schwit1 for sharing the story.

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Dear Gen Z, Here's How to Be OK When a Recession Hits - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-08-06 12:00
Five millennials share the most important financial and career lessons they learned during the Great Recession.

Instagram will test extra-tall photos to go along with Reels

Engadget - Sat, 2022-08-06 11:47

Instagram will soon allow users to post 9:16 photos to their feed as part of a test the company plans to undertake “in a week or two.” The tidbit of news came out of Adam Mosseri’s weekly Q&A. “You can have tall videos, but you cannot have tall photos on Instagram,” the executive said. “So we thought maybe we should make sure that we treat both equally.”

While it’s already possible to share 9:16 photos through Instagram, you have to do so through the app’s Stories feature, meaning those images will disappear unless you save them as a Highlight. Currently, vertical photos you post to your feed will top out at 8:10 as long as you crop them correctly.

It's been a busy week at Instagram. I'm doing an AMA shortly – – like I do every Friday. Ask a question there and I'll do my best to answer it.

— Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) July 29, 2022

The timing of the test comes after Mosseri recently announced Instagram would walk back its unpopular full-screen interface. The company had been testing the redesign since mid-June, only to find that most people didn’t like it. “For the new feed designs, people are frustrated and the usage data isn’t great,” Mosseri told Platformer last week. Among the most vocal detractors of the redesign were photographers who found the new interface would overlay captions on top of their images, obscuring part of their work in the process. Instagram’s latest test would suggest the company still intends to move towards a more TikTok-like experience.

Save up to 36% on Hiboy Electric Scooters - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-08-06 11:37
Get rolling with budget friendly electric scooters and more during Amazon's one-day sale.

Samsung Finally Starts Selling Parts for Smartphone Repairs at Home. Sort of

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-08-06 11:34
This week Samsung said customers can finally start buying replacement screens, rear glass and charging ports for home repairs from repair resource site iFixit, as well as from Samsung's Experience stores across the country, according to the Washington Post. But their article warns that for now the program is limited to just "a handful of higher-end models" like the Galaxy S20 and S21 series smartphones. ("We plan to expand to more models as the program matures," said a Samsung spokesperson.) You can't, for example, buy just a screen to replace a broken one in your Galaxy phone. Instead, Samsung says you must purchase an entire screen "assembly," which includes the display itself, the metal frame that surrounds it and another battery. Essentially, that means replacing the entire front of the phone and then some. That also means that, for the time being, Samsung doesn't have a way for you to purchase a genuine battery on its own to replace the one that isn't holding a long-charge or bloating — a common issue in devices that are used and charged regularly. The Samsung spokesperson told The Washington Post that "additional parts will be added as the program ramps up," though co-founder and CEO Kyle Wiens says iFixit will continue to sell third-party replacement batteries.... And we're not kidding about how fiddly these guides can be: according to iFixit, the process of replacing a Galaxy S20's screen assembly requires 41 steps, and that doesn't include putting the phone back together.

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Capture Everything With This Discounted Beginner Drone -- Just $85 Right Now - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-08-06 11:01
Save up to $35 off this budget-friendly, easy-to-use drone and capture everything in high definition.

This Time Machine Takes You Back to When Phones Were a Shared Experience - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-08-06 11:00
Commentary: A St. Louis museum shows that back in the day, the same phone might be used by many people. It gave me newfound appreciation for the smartphone.

Grab Factory Reconditioned Amazon Fire TVs Starting at $245 - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-08-06 10:44
This one-day deal can help you revamp your entertainment space for less with 50-, 55- and 65-inch smart TVs.

After Backlash, GitLab U-Turns on Deleting Dormant Projects

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-08-06 10:34
"GitLab has reversed its decision to automatically delete projects that are inactive for more than a year and belong to its free-tier users," reports the Register. Thursday GitLab tweeted: "We discussed internally what to do with inactive repositories. We reached a decision to move unused repos to object storage. Once implemented, they will still be accessible but take a bit longer to access after a long period of inactivity." But the Register says they've seen internal documents from "well-placed sources" showing that GitLab had originally "hoped the move would save it up to $1 million a year and help make its SaaS business sustainable." And the company had spent a long time preparing for such a move: Documents we have seen gave staff notice of an internal meeting scheduled for August 9. The agenda for the meeting lays out the plan to delete dormant code repositories... Other internal documents seen by The Register mention the possible use of object storage to archive projects but express concerns that doing so would increase GitLab's costs by creating a need for multiple redundant backups. We have also seen internal discussions confirming the automation code to delete inactive projects was completed by the end of July, and was ready to roll out after months of debate and development work. One of our sources told us [Thursday] that it was online pressure, led by The Register's reporting, that forced a dramatic rethink at the GitHub rival. Word of the deletion policy as a money-saving exercise sparked fury on Twitter and Reddit. On GitLab's Twitter feed Thursday, someone raised an interesting point about GitLab's new promise to move inactive repos into object storage. "Wait, does 'inactive' mean repositories that have no new commits? Or only those without new commits AND without read access by cloning / fetching?" And GitLab's CEO/co-founder Sid Sijbrandij replied, "We're not sure yet. Probably all write operations would keep a project active, creating an issue, a merge request, pushing changes to a branch, etc. We might also keep it active as long as people are doing read operations such as cloning, forking, etc." Friday Sijbrandij tweeted this status update: "Archived projects is a user activated state that signals intent. We're not sure yet but very likely the storage type used is orthogonal to that. Our current plan for object storage would keep the repos visible to everyone."

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'They/Them' Fails to Show the True Horrors of LGBTQ Conversion Therapy - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-08-06 09:24
Review: Peacock's new slasher film isn't as scary or subversive as real life.

California DMV accuses Tesla of falsely portraying its vehicles as fully autonomous

Engadget - Sat, 2022-08-06 09:03

Tesla uses advertising language on its website for its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving products that's untrue and misleading to customers, the California DMV said. According to The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal, the agency has filed complaints with the California Office of Administrative Hearings, accusing the automaker of making statements "not based on facts" that make it seem like its vehicles are capable of full autonomous driving. The DMV pointed to the name of the products themselves in the complaints, as well as to other misleading language on Tesla's website. 

One example the DMV noted in its complaints is language Tesla used for its Full Self-Driving product, which says:

"All you will need to do is get in and tell your car where to go. If you don’t say anything, your car will look at your calendar and take you there as the assumed destination. Your Tesla will figure out the optimal route, navigating urban streets, complex intersections and freeways."

Tesla vehicles come with the hardware needed to activate Full Self-Driving, which customers can unlock for a payment of $12,000. The automaker's active Autopilot features include the ability to automatically change lanes and do parallel or perpendicular parking for the driver. There's also a smart summon feature that will have the vehicle navigating complex parking lots to find its owner. And those who pay for FSD, which is currently in beta, have access to a feature that identifies stop signs and traffic lights. The technology will then automatically slow their car down on approach. 

Neither technology, however, can drive a car without the need for a person behind the wheel. Tesla chief Elon Musk recently said that FSD would have that capability next year, but the executive is known for his aggressively optimistic timelines.

While Tesla already warns drivers not to take their hands off the wheel even while they're using Autopilot or FSD, the DMV says that disclaimer isn't enough. The worst result the company could get is for its licenses in the state to be suspended or revoked, but a DMV spokesperson told the publications that the agency isn't seeking to put the company out of business in California. It will merely ask Tesla to "better educate Tesla drivers about the capabilities of its ‘Autopilot’ and ‘Full Self-Driving’ features, including cautionary warnings regarding the limitations of the features, and for other actions as appropriate given the violations."

Back in 2016, Tesla also got in trouble with Germany's Federal Motor Authority, which told the automaker to stop using the term "autopilot" in its advertising out of concerns that people would misinterpret its capabilities. Last year, Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the company over its "misleading advertising and marketing" of the Autopilot and Full Self-Driving technologies, as well.

Monkeypox: What Gay and Bisexual Men Need to Know - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-08-06 09:00
Public health officials are eager to reach men who have sex with men without adding stigma.

Great Barrier Reef Has Most Coral In Decades

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-08-06 09:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the Washington Post: Marine scientists have found that parts of Australia's Great Barrier Reef have recorded their highest levels of coral cover since monitoring began nearly four decades ago, although they warn the reef's recovery could be swiftly undone by global warming. The Australian Institute of Marine Science, a government agency, began monitoring Earth's largest reef system 36 years ago. Its latest report indicates that the northern and central parts of the reef are on the mend after an "extensive bout" of disturbances over the past decade, said Mike Emslie, a senior research scientist at the institute. The results of the institute's annual survey show that the reef "is still vibrant and still resilient, and it can bounce back from disturbances if it gets the chance," Emslie said in an interview Thursday. News of the recovery in the reef's northern and central parts was partly offset by the report's finding that there was a loss of coral cover in the southern region. There, the reef fell prey to an outbreak of crown-of-thorns starfish, which feed exclusively on live coral, the scientists said. About half of the reefs were surveyed before the most recent coral bleaching event in February and March. Emslie said researchers won't know the full extent of the coral cover lost from that event until next year. The sheer size of the Great Barrier Reef system -- it spans some 1,700 miles and is so large it can easily be spotted from space -- means the survey is staggered over seven or eight months of the year. Among the 87 reefs surveyed for the latest report, average hard coral cover in the north increased to 36 percent, up from 27 percent in 2021, and to 33 percent in the central Great Barrier Reef from 26 percent last year. Average coral cover in the southern region decreased from 38 percent in 2021 to 34 percent this year. Much of the recent reef recovery was driven by the fast-growing Acropora species -- whose delicate branching and table corals have adorned countless postcards for tourists. Marine scientists worry that these corals are some of the most vulnerable to the impacts of global warming, including marine heat waves, coral bleaching and damaging waves, such as those generated during tropical cyclones.

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Solar Cars Are Coming, But at What Price -- and Are They Right for You? - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-08-06 08:00
They still plug in, but depending on how you use them, they may do so very rarely.

9 Great Reads From CNET This Week: VPNs, Marvel, Dark Matter and More - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-08-06 08:00
How VPN reviewers can do a better job, why visual effects artist are criticizing Marvel, what cosmic breakthroughs reveal about the universe, and plenty besides that.