Vodafone UK now taking pre-orders for the Huawei P20 and P20 Pro

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Brits who are still buzzing from the Huawei event yesterday can now pre-order the two flagships from Vodafone UK. The Huawei P20 is available on contract for £9 up front while the 40MP-shooting Huawei P20 Pro for £49 up front. Here’s a sweet deal – pre-order before April 6 and you’ll get a free pair of Bose QuietComfort 35 II (black), which some consider to be the best noise canceling headphones on the market. They’re worth £330 normally. Anyway, here are two promo deals that get you 4x the data of the normal plans. You can find the P20 plans here and the P20 Pro plans here. There’s…

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Investigation finds FBI did not exhaust all options before taking Apple to trial in San Bernardino case

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An investigation into the FBI’s aggressive attempt to force Apple to assist in the unlocking of an iPhone tied to 2016’s San Bernardino shooting suggests a lack of communication, red tape and perhaps political motives were at play in taking the case to court.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

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The AI and machine learning innovations taking John Deere to the next level of precision agriculture

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Plenty of companies are talking about artificial intelligence and machine learning today in vague, disconnected terms. It will certainly influence our strategy; not sure how, but everything’s coming up AI, right?

As a pleasant antidote to all that bluff and bluster, how about this from John Stone, senior vice president of the Intelligent Solutions Group at agricultural manufacturing giant John Deere? “AI and machine learning is going to be as core to John Deere as an engine and transmission is.”

Make no mistake about it, these are certainly exciting times for the 180-year-old Deere & Company. The company has in the past several months acquired Blue River Technology, a machine learning-centric startup, as well as opened up a lab in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Yet this is just the way things have been done for some time at the company – it’s just the technology has changed with it.

Than Hartsock, director of precision agriculture solutions at John Deere, has been involved with the company for much longer than his almost 17-year tenure, having grown up on a commercial grain farm in Ohio. In the late 1990s, his education – Hartsock has degrees in soil and crop science – involved working on projects around soil sensing technologies. Deere acquired NavCom Technology, a provider of global navigation satellite system (GNSS) technology, at around the same time. “It was clear, even when I was in high school, that John Deere was uniquely committed to precision agriculture,” says Hartsock.

It was the Internet of Things long before anyone came up with a proper name for it. Yet this initial investment translates to a serious advantage for the company today. “Those early investments have allowed us to, I would say, position the integration of those components into our equipment into our machines, across machines, and into our dealerships,” explains Hartsock. “It went from ‘okay, this is something Deere is doing [and] it may not be completely clear why we’re doing it’, [and] now it’s at the forefront of our company. It’s how we think about our value proposition to the industry, to farmers, crop producers, and customers.”

No stone is left unturned, no crop is left unfurled – and this is where Blue River comes in. The company provides what it calls ‘see and spray’ technology, which utilises machine learning to process, in real-time, images of weeds and crops and tell the sprayer what and where to spray. It makes for a vast improvement on anything a human can do – but it remains important to keep human expertise.

“Farmers, and their advisors and contractors – these are individuals that bring decades and generations of knowledge about the practices, about the land that they farm,” says Hartsock. “The way we see it is the technology – even artificial intelligence and machine learning – provides them the tools to essentially extend and scale their knowledge.

“Imagine the smart spraying scenario… you could imagine an agronomist, a farmer needing to come into that field ahead of time,” Hartsock adds. “What’s the state of the crop? How much input do I want to invest in this crop at this stage? The machine is going to be able to discern between weeds and crops, but I need to decide economically, agronomically, how much I want to invest.”

Hartsock will be speaking at IoT Tech Expo Global in London on April 18-19, discussing how agriculture has become a prime example of optimising on connected technologies. Inside the industry technological advancement has never been clearer – but what about outside it?

Take self-driving cars as an example. You can’t move for hype and headlines around them, but what can they actually do today? Compared to a smart tractor, one can argue it’s mostly child’s play – and Hartsock wants to make clear how smarter machines and the IoT have ‘infiltrated’ agriculture.

“When you look at a planter and a tractor, in many cases, nearly all cases, that planter or that seeder will have a sensor on every row that’s measuring every seed and every row that’s dropped into the soil,” says Hartsock. “It will have a sensor that measures the motion of the planter row unit to make sure the row unit is keeping in close contact with the soil, and if it’s not maintaining contact, the sensor informs an actuator to apply more pressure to the row unit.

“That’s just the planter,” he adds. “The tractor is equipped with many sensors around the engine and transmission, and then that tractor, like most of our large ag machines, is equipped with a 4G modem that then provides connectivity between those sensors and data that’s being acquired, and then connected to the cloud.

“Once the data gets to the cloud we give the user, the farmer, the contractor, the authority over the data to dictate control and share with other partners and other companies,” Hartsock says. “You really then have this ecosystem that evolves, develops, for usage of the data… all generated out of the work that’s being done in the field by that smart machine.”

Than Hartsock will be speaking at IoT Tech Expo Global, in London on 18-19 April. Find out more about the event here.

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How new technologies and ideas are taking football beyond the game

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WIRED follows the Audi Summer Tour 2017 to explore the new technologies, fanbases and ideas changing the ways we experience football.
WIRED UK
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Tesla begins taking Apple Pay for Model 3 reservations

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Tesla has started accepting Apple Pay for the $ 1,000 deposit on the Model 3 — the automaker’s first EV aimed at the mass market, already in a huge production backlog because of demand and slow production.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

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France taking Apple & Google to court for ‘abusive trade practices’ with developers

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The French government is taking both Apple and Google to court, accusing the companies of ‘abusive trade practices’ in the way that they treat developers.

Reporting on the case is light on detail, but France appears to have three objections to the way the relationship works between app stores and developers …

more…

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MIT Is Taking on Fusion Power. Could This Be the Time It Actually Works?

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We may be one large step closer to a future driven by fusion power — the elusive, limitless, and zero-carbon energy source that’s even a step-up from renewables. A collaboration between MIT and a new private company, Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), aims to bring the world’s first fusion power plant online in the next 15 years, using a novel approach.

Fusion powers the sun and other stars. It involves lighter atoms like hydrogen smashing together to form heavier elements, like helium, and releasing massive amounts of energy while doing so. This energy release happens, however, at very, very extreme temperatures — in the range of hundreds of millions of degrees Celsius — which would melt any material it came in contact with.

So, in order to experiment with fusion in the laboratory, researchers use magnetic fields to hold that smashed together soup of subatomic particles, called plasma, suspended and away from the walls of the experimental chamber. The trickiness of using fusion as a form of energy is that, to date, every experiment has yielded net negative energy  — meaning more energy goes into heating that subatomic soup than comes out for potential use.

Now, this collaboration is launching an experiment known as SPARC, which will use new, high-temperature superconductors to build smaller, more powerful high-field magnets to power an experimental fusion reactor. SPARC’s goal? The first-ever net positive energy gain from fusion.

Vizualization of proposed SPARC experiment. Image Credit: Visualization by Ken Filar, PSFC research affiliate
Visualization of the proposed SPARC experiment. Image Credit: Visualization by Ken Filar, PSFC research affiliate.

This fusion experiment is designed to produce 100 megawatts of heat, thanks to those new magnets. It won’t turn that heat into electricity, but in 10-second pulses, it could produce twice the power needed to heat the plasma, and as much power as is used by a small city.

“This is an important historical moment: Advances in superconducting magnets have put fusion energy potentially within reach, offering the prospect of a safe, carbon-free energy future,” MIT President L. Rafael Reif told MIT News. 

While this team’s approach to fusion power seems promising; a number of previous collaborations were unable to get fusion energy off the ground. Researchers at the University of New South Wales tried, and failed, to create fusion through hydrogen-boron reactions.

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in France is also making progress, but SPARC is set to dethrone the project in terms of size. SPARC will be only 1/65th of ITER’s volume, because these new high-field magnets make it possible to build smaller fusion plants needed to achieve a given level of power.

If SPARC is successful, and the fusion project design proliferates worldwide, it’s possible fusion energy could start to help meet global energy demands. Researching carbon-free fusion energy is critical during an era in which greenhouse gases continue to drive climate change.

“The aspiration is to have a working power plant in time to combat climate change,” Bob Mumgaard, CEO of Commonwealth Fusion Systems, told The Guardian. “We think we have the science, speed and scale to put carbon-free fusion power on the grid in 15 years.”

The post MIT Is Taking on Fusion Power. Could This Be the Time It Actually Works? appeared first on Futurism.

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