Pruitt’s EPA Will Give Automakers What They Want: Fewer Emissions Rules

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Thanks (for trying), Obama.

The Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) is moving forward with plans to roll back the former president’s emissions standards for automobiles.

Back in 2010, the Obama administration altered the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, requiring automakers to meet a minimum fuel standard of 54.5 miles per gallon for vehicles by 2025.

Our Warming World: The Future of Climate Change [INFOGRAPHIC]
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According to the E.P.A.’s own projections, passenger vehicles in model years 2012 through 2025 that meet these emissions standards would decrease the country’s oil consumption by 12 billion barrels, and its greenhouse gas emissions by 6 billion metric tons over the vehicles’ lifetimes.

But with a new administration in charge, it’s likely those goals won’t be met.

This week, an E.P.A. spokesperson confirmed that the agency’s head, Scott Pruitt, has sent the White House a draft of a 16-page plan to revisit those standards. Two sources familiar with the matter told The New York Times the plan could “substantially roll back the Obama-era standards.”

“The proposed rollback is going to be quite a significant number,” Myron Ebell, director of global warming and international environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told The Times. “It will be more than a couple [miles per gallon].”

Automakers have been eager to lower the CAFE standards, which they deem expensive and difficult to attain. And the president and his administration have seemed just as eager to acquiesce. “My administration will work tirelessly to eliminate the industry-killing regulations,” Trump told autoworkers during a speech in March 2017.

Now that Pruitt has delivered a plan, Trump’s one step closer to keeping that promise, and it has environmental experts concerned.

“This is certainly a big deal,” Robert Stavins, director of Harvard’s environmental economics program, told The Times. “The result will be more gas-guzzling vehicles on the road, greater total gasoline consumption, and a significant increase in carbon dioxide emissions.”

We should know the specifics of Pruitt’s plan for revising emissions standards later this year, according to The Times’s sources.

Whether the administration simply rolls back standards to those in place prior to the Obama administration or goes even further is unknown. Either way, our environment will surely suffer.

The post Pruitt’s EPA Will Give Automakers What They Want: Fewer Emissions Rules appeared first on Futurism.

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Give your iPhone camera the feel of a DSLR [Deals]

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

Your iPhone takes great pictures, but it doesn’t feel like a camera. After all, cameras are easy to grip and hold steady, and that’s by design. But the design for phones focuses on being sleek and slim enough fit in your pocket. With the ShutterGrip Smartphone Camera Controller, your iPhone can take on the feel […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

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Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact give you the World’s Best Battery Performance of the Leading Premium Smartphones*

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Here at Sony we know you don’t just use your Xperia for calls, it’s all about entertainment on the move, keeping up-to-date with the latest news and scouring social media. This means you need a device that keeps you going throughout the day.

Well now you don’t have to worry as our new Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact have been certified as having the best battery performance of the leading premium smartphones* – the result of increased battery capacity and improved power consumption & energy efficiency, with the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 845 Mobile Platform.So whether you’re in the market for a new phone or just looking to treat yourself, pre-order the new Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact here.

*Based on the results of battery performance testing Sony’s Xperia XZ2 and Sony’s Xperia XZ2 Compact, Apple iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy S9, LG G6, Huawei P10 and Oppo R11 (being the “Leading Premium Smartphones” as defined by Strategy Analytics as top selling smartphones globally). Research was conducted by Strategy Analytics from 15th – 20th February and 20th – 21st March 2018. For more information, go to: www.sonymobile.com/testresults/

The post Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact give you the World’s Best Battery Performance of the Leading Premium Smartphones* appeared first on Sony Xperia Blog.

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Give your iPhone X an exoskeleton with the Radius X [Review]

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The futuristic design of Mod-3’s Radius X makes it one of the most unusual iPhone X cases I’ve seen. If you’re after the ultimate minimalist case, or don’t like having a case on your phone but still want to protect it, the Radius X could be the perfect candidate. In fact, it’s less of a […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

Cult of Mac

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BlackBerry’s Fan League will give you swag for hyping its poorly-selling phones

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BlackBerry wants you to advertise on its behalf in exchange for the weekly chance to win… wait for it… BlackBerry-branded gear like a bag, mugs, a hat, and more. Okay, and also a monthly drawing for a BlackBerry smartphone. The program, called BlackBerry Smartphone Fan League, has you connect your social media platforms in order to promote BlackBerry and earn points. The more points, the more entries. To win a BlackBerry hat. Or cup. Yay.

To get your first 100 points, you have to connect either your Twitter or Facebook account. Then, the Fan League (run by a company called Social Toaster) prompts you to connect even more accounts you can use to shill for BlackBerry, from Instagram to Pinterest to YouTube. Once you’ve decided where…

Continue reading…

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Give your computer a checkup from the neck up [Deals]

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

Macs are complex machines, but in some ways they’re a bit like people. Everything they can do relies on a healthy, uncluttered hard drive; the “brains” of the operation. But you can’t take your Macbook to a psychologist (unless that’s your thing), so instead you’ll want a utility app like Drive Genius. Drive Genius 5 […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

Cult of Mac

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Airtable raises $52M to give non-coders tools to build complex software

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A massive company probably has plenty of engineers on staff and the resources to build a complex backbone of interconnected information that can contain tons of data and make acting on it easy — but for smaller companies, and for those that aren’t technical, those tools aren’t very accessible.

That’s what convinced Howie Liu to create Airtable, a startup that looks to turn what seems like just a normal spreadsheet into a robust database tool, hiding the complexity of what’s happening in the background while those without any programming experience create intricate systems to get their work done. Today, they’re trying to take that one step further with a new tool called Blocks, a set of mix-and-match operations like SMS and integrating maps that users can just drop into their systems. Think of it as a way to give a small business owner with a non-technical background to meticulously track all the performance activity across, say, a network of food trucks by just entering a bunch of dollar values and dropping in one of these tools.

“We really want to take this power you have in software creation and ‘consumerize’ that into a form anyone can use,” Liu said. “At the same time, from a business standpoint, we saw this bigger opportunity underneath the low-code app platforms in general. Those platforms solve the needs of heavyweight expensive use cases where you have a budget and have a lot of time. I would position Airtable making a leap toward a graphical user interface, versus a lot of products that are admin driven.”

Liu said the company has raised an additional $ 52 million in financing in a round led by CRV and Caffeinated Capital, with participation from Freestyle Ventures and Slow Ventures. All this is going toward a way to build a system that is trying to abstract out even the process of programming itself, though there’s always going to be some limited scope as to how custom of a system you can actually make with what amounts to a set of logic operation legos. That being said, the goal here is to boil down all of the most common sets of operations with the long tail left to the average programmers (and larger enterprises often have these kinds of highly-customized needs).

All this is coming at a time when businesses are increasingly chasing the long tail of small- to medium-sized businesses, the ones that aren’t really on the grid but represent a massive market opportunity. Those businesses also probably don’t have the kinds of resources to hire engineers while companies like Google or Facebook are camping out on college campuses looking to snap up students graduating with technical majors. That’s part of the reason why Excel had become so popular trying to abstract out a lot of complex operations necessary to run a business, but at the same time, Liu said that kind of philosophy should be able to be taken a step further.

“If you look at cloud, you have Amazon’s [cloud infrastructure] EC2, which abstracted the hardware level and you can build on existing machine intelligence,” Liu said. “Then, you get the OS level and up. Containers, Heroku, and other tools have extracted away the operation level complexity. But you have to write the app and modal logic. Our goal is to go a big leap forward on top of that and abstract out the app code layer. You should be able to directly use our interface, and blocks, all these plug and play lego pieces that give you more dynamic functionality — whether a map view or an integration with Twilio.”

And, really, all these platforms like Twilio have tried to make themselves pretty friendly to coding beginners as-is. Twilio has a lot of really good documentation for first-time developers to learn to use their platforms. But Airtable hopes to serve as a way to interconnect all these things in a complex web, creating a relational database behind the scenes that users can operate on in a more simplistic matter that’s still accurate, fast, and reliable.

“Obviously MySQL is great if you want to use code or custom SQL queries to interface with the data,” Liu said. “But, ultimately, you’d never as a business end user consider using literally a terminal-based SQL prompt as the primary interface to and from your data. Certainly you wouldn’t put that on your designs. Clearly you would want some interface on top of the SQL level database. We basically expose the full value of a relational database like Postgres to the end user, but we also give them something equally but more important: the interface on the top that makes the data immediately visible.”

There’s been a lot of activity trying to rethink these sort of fundamental formats that the average user is used to, but are ripe for more flexibility. Coda, a startup trying to rethink the notion behind a word document, raised $ 60 million, and all this points towards moves to try to create a more robust toolkit for non-technical users. That also means that it’s going to be an increasingly hot space, and especially look like an opportunity for companies that are already looking to host these kinds of services online like Amazon or Microsoft and have the buy-in from those businesses.

Liu, too, said that the goal of the company was to go after all potential business cases right away by creating a what-you-see-is-what-you-get one size fits all platform — which is usually called a horizontal approach. That’s often a very risky move, and it’s probably the biggest question mark for the company as there’s an opportunity for some other startups or companies to come in and grab niches of that whole pie in specific areas (like, say, a custom GUI programming interface for healthcare). But Liu said the opportunity for Airtable was to go horizontal from day one.

“There’s this assumption that software has to involve literally writing code,” Liu said. “It’s sort of a difficult thing to extricate ourselves from because we have built so much with writing code. But when you think about what goes into a useful application, especially in the business-to-business internal tools in a company use case which forms the bulk of software that’s consumed in terms of lines of code written, most of them are primarily a relational database model, and the relational database aspect of it is not an arbitrary format.

Mobile – TechCrunch

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Intel: “Smart cities give every person back 125 hours a year”

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New research sponsored by Intel and published by Juniper Research suggests that smart cities can “give back” 125 hours a year to every resident.

This equates to an entire working week (five 24-hour days), or nearly 16 eight-hour working days.

The report ranks Singapore, London, New York, San Francisco, and Chicago as the world’s smartest cities, with several in China rising up through the top 20 chart as China automates faster than any other nation.

Read more: South Korea most automated nation on earth, says report. The UK? Going nowhere

So how do the figures stack up? There are big plusses for mobility, health, and public safety, according to the research.

Mobility: +60 hours a year

Gridlocks in cities causes drivers to lose up to 70 hours a year, according to Juniper Research.

The study shows that an integrated, IoT-enabled infrastructure of intelligent traffic systems, safer roads, directed parking, and frictionless toll and parking payments could give back up to 60 of those hours a year to drivers who would otherwise be stuck in their cars.

Read  more: Pirelli smart tyres underpin its Cyber Car strategy

Read more: TomTom brings connected car services to Kia and Hyundai

Health: +10 hours a year

Smart cities with connected digital health services can help save people up to 10 hours a year, says the research.

Some of the numerous examples include: wearables and apps that monitor high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, and other medical conditions. These help people manage their health better without hospitalisation, and over time may reduce the need to see doctors.

Meanwhile, telemedicine allows contagious disease sufferers to avoid doctors’ surgeries via high-speed video links in the comfort of their own homes. This not only saves the patient time and effort, but also minimises the risk of contagion.

However, it must be said that these initiatives aren’t limited to urban areas, although they will lead to a greater concentration of useful data within them.

Read more: Health IoT: KardiaBand sensor could replace invasive blood tests

Read more: Health IoT: App helps sports stars predict and manage injuries

Read more: Fitbit and Apple Watch can help predict diabetes, says report

Public Safety: 35 hours a year

Improvements in public safety can help citizens regain a lot of hours, says Juniper Research.

For instance, in Portland, Oregon, (No 12 in the Juniper Smart Cities Index, see below) and San Diego (No 14), Intel has joined forces with GE and AT&T to deploy city-wide smart infrastructures with Current, powered by GE’s CityIQ technology.

Via these city-wide programmes, common street furniture such as street lights can be turned into connected infrastructure beacons that help monitor the pulse of city life, cut costs, design better services, and enable communities to be safer, cleaner, and more sustainable.

Read more: Poles apart: Five cities putting smart streetlights to new uses

Read more: MWC 2018: World’s first streetlight powered smart cell lights up

The world’s smartest cities

The research ranks the top 20 smart cities worldwide across four key areas: mobility, healthcare, public safety, and productivity.

Singapore emerges as the overall leader, with London not far behind. New York, San Francisco, and Chicago make up the rest of the top five.

Read more: EHANG passenger drone boasts successful manned test flights in Singapore

The report says that these cities stand out because of their efforts to connect city municipalities, businesses, and citizens to improve what it calls “livability”.

San Francisco and Singapore do well in mobility; Chicago, New York, and Singapore all score highly in public safety; while London and Singapore are the leading lights in connected healthcare, says the report.

Finally, Chicago, London, and Singapore all do well in productivity terms – which must be music to the ears of Whitehall, where the British government has been struggling with flatlining productivity growth for years.

The top 20 smart cities

The full list of the top 20 smart cities identified in the report is:

1. Singapore
2. London
3. New York
4. San Francisco
5. Chicago
6. Seoul
7. Berlin
8. Tokyo
9. Barcelona
10. Melbourne
11. Dubai
12. Portland
13. Nice
14. San Diego
15. Rio de Janeiro
16. Mexico City
17. Wuxi
18. Yinchuan
19. Bhubaneswar
20. Hangzhou

See the report in full Smart Cities – What’s in it for Citizens?

Internet of Business says

As the report suggests, smart cities aren’t just about making life better for individual citizens – although Gartner has recently published a report saying that citizen benefit is the be-all and end-all of smart-city programmes. That’s good advice.

Smart cities are also data conurbations: locations where millions of people may gather and go about their data lives, creating a mass of real-time data that can be used to redesign services and create a more sustainable future in terms of resources, energy, and more.

The post Intel: “Smart cities give every person back 125 hours a year” appeared first on Internet of Business.

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Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes says the 1 percent should give cash to working people

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Facebook co-founder and “Fair Shot” author Chris Hughes

In his new book “Fair Shot,” Hughes outlines a proposal for “guaranteed income,” to lift health and education outcomes in the U.S.

“Fair Shot” author Chris Hughes is trying to convince America’s richest citizens to give money to working people — not education policy, not inspirational messages, not invocations to try harder. Cash.

“Cash is the best thing you can do to improve health outcomes, education outcomes and lift people out of poverty,” Hughes said on the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher.

“Of course we need more and better education,” he added. “Of course we need more small businesses to create good jobs. We’ve spent decades thinking about those things, investing in those things and we should think more. However, we overlook the most powerful weapon in the arsenal — and in many ways the simplest. Cash can be that.”

In his new book, he argues that a guaranteed income for people in the U.S. could be financed by the one percent — a group that includes Hughes himself. He met Mark Zuckerberg his freshman year at Harvard, co-founded Facebook and later became a digital adviser to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

“My story — which the only thing we can call it is a lucky break — is unfortunately not that uncommon in the economy today,” Hughes said. “I might be extreme, but I don’t think my case is actually that unusual. A small group of people are getting very, very wealthy while everyone else is struggling to make ends meet.”

You can listen to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

On the new podcast, Hughes explained how his proposal for guaranteed income — $ 500 a month for everyone making $ 50,000 or less per year — differs from the more commonly discussed concept of universal basic income.

“It’s inspired by the exact same values of cash, no strings attached, to achieve financial stability, recognizing the dignity and freedom of each individual,” he said. “But it’s a more modest place to begin. I make the case that we can and should do this through a modernization of the Earned Income Tax Credit.”

The EITC already gives money to low-income people, but whether you’re eligible and how much you get can vary wildly depending on your age, location, marital status and many other factors, Hughes said. And the policy, first enacted in 1975, has not been updated to address modern forms of economic insecurity.

“Jobs in America have already come apart,” Hughes said. “That is one of the effects of automation, and globalization in particular: All of the jobs in the past 10 years that we’ve created, 94 percent of them are part-time, contract, temporary, seasonal. Yeah, unemployment is near a record low, but the jobs that are out there are not providing the kind of 40 hours a week benefits [like] sick leave or retirement benefits.”

Even a couple hundred dollars could make a huge difference for people with no savings living paycheck to paycheck, who might not know how many hours they’ll be able to work next week, he explained.

“If you have a little bit more financial stability in your life, you’re able to live one step or two steps back from the brink,” Hughes said. “We’re not talking about so much money that everybody wins the lottery and we’re all just hanging out, putting up our feet, whatever the worst images that critics conjure up.”

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode, answers the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • And Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, including the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on Apple Podcasts — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Kara.


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