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Nikhil Vemu

Nikhil Vemu

15 days ago

7 Mac Tips You Never Knew You Needed

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Will Lockett

Will Lockett

2 months ago

The World Will Change With MIT's New Battery

MIT’s new battery is made from only aluminium (left), sulphur (middle) and salt (left) — MIT

It's cheaper, faster charging, longer lasting, safer, and better for the environment.

Batteries are the future. Next-gen and planet-saving technology, including solar power and EVs, require batteries. As these smart technologies become more popular, we find that our batteries can't keep up. Lithium-ion batteries are expensive, slow to charge, big, fast to decay, flammable, and not environmentally friendly. MIT just created a new battery that eliminates all of these problems.  So, is this the battery of the future? Or is there a catch?

When I say entirely new, I mean it. This battery employs no currently available materials. Its electrodes are constructed of aluminium and pure sulfur instead of lithium-complicated ion's metals and graphite. Its electrolyte is formed of molten chloro-aluminate salts, not an organic solution with lithium salts like lithium-ion batteries.

How does this change in materials help?

Aluminum, sulfur, and chloro-aluminate salts are abundant, easy to acquire, and cheap. This battery might be six times cheaper than a lithium-ion battery and use less hazardous mining. The world and our wallets will benefit.

But don’t go thinking this means it lacks performance.

This battery charged in under a minute in tests. At 25 degrees Celsius, the battery will charge 25 times slower than at 110 degrees Celsius. This is because the salt, which has a very low melting point, is in an ideal state at 110 degrees and can carry a charge incredibly quickly. Unlike lithium-ion, this battery self-heats when charging and discharging, therefore no external heating is needed.

Anyone who's seen a lithium-ion battery burst might be surprised. Unlike lithium-ion batteries, none of the components in this new battery can catch fire. Thus, high-temperature charging and discharging speeds pose no concern.

These batteries are long-lasting. Lithium-ion batteries don't last long, as any iPhone owner can attest. During charging, metal forms a dendrite on the electrode. This metal spike will keep growing until it reaches the other end of the battery, short-circuiting it. This is why phone batteries only last a few years and why electric car range decreases over time. This new battery's molten salt slows deposition, extending its life. This helps the environment and our wallets.

These batteries are also energy dense. Some lithium-ion batteries have 270 Wh/kg energy density (volume and mass). Aluminum-sulfur batteries could have 1392 Wh/kg, according to calculations. They'd be 5x more energy dense. Tesla's Model 3 battery would weigh 96 kg instead of 480 kg if this battery were used. This would improve the car's efficiency and handling.

These calculations were for batteries without molten salt electrolyte. Because they don't reflect the exact battery chemistry, they aren't a surefire prediction.

This battery seems great. It will take years, maybe decades, before it reaches the market and makes a difference. Right?

Nope. The project's scientists founded Avanti to develop and market this technology.

So we'll soon be driving cheap, durable, eco-friendly, lightweight, and ultra-safe EVs? Nope.

This battery must be kept hot to keep the salt molten; otherwise, it won't work and will expand and contract, causing damage. This issue could be solved by packs that can rapidly pre-heat, but that project is far off.

Rapid and constant charge-discharge cycles make these batteries ideal for solar farms, homes, and EV charging stations. The battery is constantly being charged or discharged, allowing it to self-heat and maintain an ideal temperature.

These batteries aren't as sexy as those making EVs faster, more efficient, and cheaper. Grid batteries are crucial to our net-zero transition because they allow us to use more low-carbon energy. As we move away from fossil fuels, we'll need millions of these batteries, so the fact that they're cheap, safe, long-lasting, and environmentally friendly will be huge. Who knows, maybe EVs will use this technology one day. MIT has created another world-changing technology.

Asha Barbaschow

Asha Barbaschow

5 months ago

Apple WWDC 2022 Announcements

WWDC 2022 began early Tuesday morning. WWDC brought a ton of new features (which went for just shy of two hours).

With so many announcements, we thought we'd compile them. And now...

WWDC?

WWDC is Apple's developer conference. This includes iOS, macOS, watchOS, and iPadOS (all of its iPads). It's where Apple announces new features for developers to use. It's also where Apple previews new software.

Virtual WWDC runs June 6-10.  You can rewatch the stream on Apple's website.

WWDC 2022 news:

Completely everything. Really. iOS 16 first.

iOS 16.

iOS 16 is a major iPhone update. iOS 16 adds the ability to customize the Lock Screen's color/theme. And widgets. It also organizes notifications and pairs Lock Screen with Focus themes. Edit or recall recently sent messages, recover recently deleted messages, and mark conversations as unread. Apple gives us yet another reason to stay in its walled garden with iMessage.

New iOS includes family sharing. Parents can set up a child's account with parental controls to restrict apps, movies, books, and music. iOS 16 lets large families and friend pods share iCloud photos. Up to six people can contribute photos to a separate iCloud library.

Live Text is getting creepier. Users can interact with text in any video frame. Touch and hold an image's subject to remove it from its background and place it in apps like messages. Dictation offers a new on-device voice-and-touch experience. Siri can run app shortcuts without setup in iOS 16. Apple also unveiled a new iOS 16 feature to help people break up with abusive partners who track their locations or read their messages. Safety Check.

Apple Pay Later allows iPhone users to buy products and pay for them later. iOS 16 pushes Mail. Users can schedule emails and cancel delivery before it reaches a recipient's inbox (be quick!). Mail now detects if you forgot an attachment, as Gmail has for years. iOS 16's Maps app gets "Multi-Stop Routing," .

Apple News also gets an iOS 16 update. Apple News adds My Sports. With iOS 16, the Apple Watch's Fitness app is also coming to iOS and the iPhone, using motion-sensing tech to track metrics and performance (as long as an athlete is wearing or carrying the device on their person). 

iOS 16 includes accessibility updates like Door Detection.

watchOS9

Many of Apple's software updates are designed to take advantage of the larger screens in recent models, but they also improve health and fitness tracking.

The most obvious reason to upgrade watchOS every year is to get new watch faces from Apple. WatchOS 9 will add four new faces.

Runners' workout metrics improve.
Apple quickly realized that fitness tracking would be the Apple Watch's main feature, even though it's been the killer app for wearables since their debut. For watchOS 9, the Apple Watch will use its accelerometer and gyroscope to track a runner's form, stride length, and ground contact time. It also introduces the ability to specify heart rate zones, distance, and time intervals, with vibrating haptic feedback and voice alerts.

The Apple Watch's Fitness app is coming to iOS and the iPhone, using the smartphone's motion-sensing tech to track metrics and performance (as long as an athlete is wearing or carrying the device on their person).

We'll get sleep tracking, medication reminders, and drug interaction alerts. Your watch can create calendar events. A new Week view shows what meetings or responsibilities stand between you and the weekend.

iPadOS16

WWDC 2022 introduced iPad updates. iPadOS 16 is similar to iOS for the iPhone, but has features for larger screens and tablet accessories. The software update gives it many iPhone-like features.

iPadOS 16's Home app, like iOS 16, will have a new design language. iPad users who want to blame it on the rain finally have a Weather app. iPadOS 16 will have iCloud's Shared Photo Library, Live Text and Visual Look Up upgrades, and FaceTime Handoff, so you can switch between devices during a call.

Apple highlighted iPadOS 16's multitasking at WWDC 2022. iPad's Stage Manager sounds like a community theater app. It's a powerful multitasking tool for tablets and brings them closer to emulating laptops. Apple's iPadOS 16 supports multi-user collaboration. You can share content from Files, Keynote, Numbers, Pages, Notes, Reminders, Safari, and other third-party apps in Apple Messages.

M2-chip

WWDC 2022 revealed Apple's M2 chip. Apple has started the next generation of Apple Silicon for the Mac with M2. Apple says this device improves M1's performance.

M2's second-generation 5nm chip has 25% more transistors than M1's. 100GB/s memory bandwidth (50 per cent more than M1). M2 has 24GB of unified memory, up from 16GB but less than some ultraportable PCs' 32GB. The M2 chip has 10% better multi-core CPU performance than the M2, and it's nearly twice as fast as the latest 10-core PC laptop chip at the same power level (CPU performance is 18 per cent greater than M1).

New MacBooks

Apple introduced the M2-powered MacBook Air. Apple's entry-level laptop has a larger display, a new processor, new colors, and a notch.

M2 also powers the 13-inch MacBook Pro. The 13-inch MacBook Pro has 24GB of unified memory and 50% more memory bandwidth. New MacBook Pro batteries last 20 hours. As I type on the 2021 MacBook Pro, I can only imagine how much power the M2 will add.

macOS 13.0 (or, macOS Ventura)

macOS Ventura will take full advantage of M2 with new features like Stage Manager and Continuity Camera and Handoff for FaceTime. Safari, Mail, Messages, Spotlight, and more get updates in macOS Ventura.

Apple hasn't run out of California landmarks to name its OS after yet. macOS 13 will be called Ventura when it's released in a few months, but it's more than a name change and new wallpapers. 

Stage Manager organizes windows

Stage Manager is a new macOS tool that organizes open windows and applications so they're still visible while focusing on a specific task. The main app sits in the middle of the desktop, while other apps and documents are organized and piled up to the side.

Improved Searching

Spotlight is one of macOS's least appreciated features, but with Ventura, it's becoming even more useful. Live Text lets you extract text from Spotlight results without leaving the window, including images from the photo library and the web.

Mail lets you schedule or unsend emails.

We've all sent an email we regret, whether it contained regrettable words or was sent at the wrong time. In macOS Ventura, Mail users can cancel or reschedule a message after sending it. Mail will now intelligently determine if a person was forgotten from a CC list or if a promised attachment wasn't included. Procrastinators can set a reminder to read a message later.

Safari adds tab sharing and password passkeys

Apple is updating Safari to make it more user-friendly... mostly. Users can share a group of tabs with friends or family, a useful feature when researching a topic with too many tabs. Passkeys will replace passwords in Safari's next version. Instead of entering random gibberish when creating a new account, macOS users can use TouchID to create an on-device passkey. Using an iPhone's camera and a QR system, Passkey syncs and works across all Apple devices and Windows computers.

Continuity adds Facetime device switching and iPhone webcam.

With macOS Ventura, iPhone users can transfer a FaceTime call from their phone to their desktop or laptop using Handoff, or vice versa if they started a call at their desk and need to continue it elsewhere. Apple finally admits its laptop and monitor webcams aren't the best. Continuity makes the iPhone a webcam. Apple demonstrated a feature where the wide-angle lens could provide a live stream of the desk below, while the standard zoom lens could focus on the speaker's face. New iPhone laptop mounts are coming.

System Preferences

System Preferences is Now System Settings and Looks Like iOS
Ventura's System Preferences has been renamed System Settings and is much more similar in appearance to iOS and iPadOS. As the iPhone and iPad are gateway devices into Apple's hardware ecosystem, new Mac users should find it easier to adjust.


This post is a summary. Read full article here

Colin Faife

2 months ago

The brand-new USB Rubber Ducky is much riskier than before.

The brand-new USB Rubber Ducky is much riskier than before.

Corin Faife and Alex Castro

With its own programming language, the well-liked hacking tool may now pwn you.

With a vengeance, the USB Rubber Ducky is back.

This year's Def Con hacking conference saw the release of a new version of the well-liked hacking tool, and its author, Darren Kitchen, was on hand to explain it. We put a few of the new features to the test and discovered that the most recent version is riskier than ever.

WHAT IS IT?

The USB Rubber Ducky seems to the untrained eye to be an ordinary USB flash drive. However, when you connect it to a computer, the computer recognizes it as a USB keyboard and will accept keystroke commands from the device exactly like a person would type them in.

Kitchen explained to me, "It takes use of the trust model built in, where computers have been taught to trust a human, in that anything it types is trusted to the same degree as the user is trusted. And a computer is aware that clicks and keystrokes are how people generally connect with it.

The USB Rubber Ducky, a brainchild of Darren Kitchen Corin

Over ten years ago, the first Rubber Ducky was published, quickly becoming a hacker favorite (it was even featured in a Mr. Robot scene). Since then, there have been a number of small upgrades, but the most recent Rubber Ducky takes a giant step ahead with a number of new features that significantly increase its flexibility and capability.

WHERE IS ITS USE?

The options are nearly unlimited with the proper strategy.

The Rubber Ducky has already been used to launch attacks including making a phony Windows pop-up window to collect a user's login information or tricking Chrome into sending all saved passwords to an attacker's web server. However, these attacks lacked the adaptability to operate across platforms and had to be specifically designed for particular operating systems and software versions.

The nuances of DuckyScript 3.0 are described in a new manual. 

The most recent Rubber Ducky seeks to get around these restrictions. The DuckyScript programming language, which is used to construct the commands that the Rubber Ducky will enter into a target machine, receives a significant improvement with it. DuckyScript 3.0 is a feature-rich language that allows users to write functions, store variables, and apply logic flow controls, in contrast to earlier versions that were primarily limited to scripting keystroke sequences (i.e., if this... then that).

This implies that, for instance, the new Ducky can check to see if it is hooked into a Windows or Mac computer and then conditionally run code specific to each one, or it can disable itself if it has been attached to the incorrect target. In order to provide a more human effect, it can also generate pseudorandom numbers and utilize them to add a configurable delay between keystrokes.

The ability to steal data from a target computer by encoding it in binary code and transferring it through the signals intended to instruct a keyboard when the CapsLock or NumLock LEDs should light up is perhaps its most astounding feature. By using this technique, a hacker may plug it in for a brief period of time, excuse themselves by saying, "Sorry, I think that USB drive is faulty," and then take it away with all the credentials stored on it.

HOW SERIOUS IS THE RISK?

In other words, it may be a significant one, but because physical device access is required, the majority of people aren't at risk of being a target.

The 500 or so new Rubber Duckies that Hak5 brought to Def Con, according to Kitchen, were his company's most popular item at the convention, and they were all gone on the first day. It's safe to suppose that hundreds of hackers already possess one, and demand is likely to persist for some time.

Additionally, it has an online development toolkit that can be used to create attack payloads, compile them, and then load them onto the target device. A "payload hub" part of the website makes it simple for hackers to share what they've generated, and the Hak5 Discord is also busy with conversation and helpful advice. This makes it simple for users of the product to connect with a larger community.

It's too expensive for most individuals to distribute in volume, so unless your favorite cafe is renowned for being a hangout among vulnerable targets, it's doubtful that someone will leave a few of them there. To that end, if you intend to plug in a USB device that you discovered outside in a public area, pause to consider your decision.

WOULD IT WORK FOR ME?

Although the device is quite straightforward to use, there are a few things that could cause you trouble if you have no prior expertise writing or debugging code. For a while, during testing on a Mac, I was unable to get the Ducky to press the F4 key to activate the launchpad, but after forcing it to identify itself using an alternative Apple keyboard device ID, the problem was resolved.

From there, I was able to create a script that, when the Ducky was plugged in, would instantly run Chrome, open a new browser tab, and then immediately close it once more without requiring any action from the laptop user. Not bad for only a few hours of testing, and something that could be readily changed to perform duties other than reading technology news.

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joyce shen

joyce shen

9 months ago

Framework to Evaluate Metaverse and Web3

Everywhere we turn, there's a new metaverse or Web3 debut. Microsoft recently announced a $68.7 BILLION cash purchase of Activision.

Like AI in 2013 and blockchain in 2014, NFT growth in 2021 feels like this year's metaverse and Web3 growth. We are all bombarded with information, conflicting signals, and a sensation of FOMO.

How can we evaluate the metaverse and Web3 in a noisy, new world? My framework for evaluating upcoming technologies and themes is shown below. I hope you will also find them helpful.

Understand the “pipes” in a new space. 

Whatever people say, Metaverse and Web3 will have to coexist with the current Internet. Companies who host, move, and store data over the Internet have a lot of intriguing use cases in Metaverse and Web3, whether in infrastructure, data analytics, or compliance. Hence the following point.

## Understand the apps layer and their infrastructure.

Gaming, crypto exchanges, and NFT marketplaces would not exist today if not for technology that enables rapid app creation. Yes, according to Chainalysis and other research, 30–40% of Ethereum is self-hosted, with the rest hosted by large cloud providers. For Microsoft to acquire Activision makes strategic sense. It's not only about the games, but also the infrastructure that supports them.

Follow the money

Understanding how money and wealth flow in a complex and dynamic environment helps build clarity. Unless you are exceedingly wealthy, you have limited ability to significantly engage in the Web3 economy today. Few can just buy 10 ETH and spend it in one day. You must comprehend who benefits from the process, and how that 10 ETH circulates now and possibly tomorrow. Major holders and players control supply and liquidity in any market. Today, most Web3 apps are designed to increase capital inflow so existing significant holders can utilize it to create a nascent Web3 economy. When you see a new Metaverse or Web3 application, remember how money flows.

What is the use case? 

What does the app do? If there is no clear use case with clear makers and consumers solving a real problem, then the euphoria soon fades, and the only stakeholders who remain enthused are those who have too much to lose.

Time is a major competition that is often overlooked.

We're only busier, but each day is still 24 hours. Using new apps may mean that time is lost doing other things. The user must be eager to learn. Metaverse and Web3 vs. our time?  I don't think we know the answer yet (at least for working adults whose cost of time is higher).
I don't think we know the answer yet (at least for working adults whose cost of time is higher).

People and organizations need security and transparency.

For new technologies or apps to be widely used, they must be safe, transparent, and trustworthy. What does secure Metaverse and Web3 mean? This is an intriguing subject for both the business and public sectors. Cloud adoption grew in part due to improved security and data protection regulations.

 The following frameworks can help analyze and understand new technologies and emerging technological topics, unless you are a significant investment fund with the financial ability to gamble on numerous initiatives and essentially form your own “index fund”.

I write on VC, startups, and leadership.

More on https://www.linkedin.com/in/joycejshen/ and https://joyceshen.substack.com/

This writing is my own opinion and does not represent investment advice.

Daniel Clery

2 months ago

Twisted device investigates fusion alternatives

German stellarator revamped to run longer, hotter, compete with tokamaks

Wendelstein 7-X’s complex geometry was a nightmare to build but, when fired up, worked from the start.

Tokamaks have dominated the search for fusion energy for decades. Just as ITER, the world's largest and most expensive tokamak, nears completion in southern France, a smaller, twistier testbed will start up in Germany.

If the 16-meter-wide stellarator can match or outperform similar-size tokamaks, fusion experts may rethink their future. Stellarators can keep their superhot gases stable enough to fuse nuclei and produce energy. They can theoretically run forever, but tokamaks must pause to reset their magnet coils.

The €1 billion German machine, Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X), is already getting "tokamak-like performance" in short runs, claims plasma physicist David Gates, preventing particles and heat from escaping the superhot gas. If W7-X can go long, "it will be ahead," he says. "Stellarators excel" Eindhoven University of Technology theorist Josefine Proll says, "Stellarators are back in the game." A few of startup companies, including one that Gates is leaving Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, are developing their own stellarators.

W7-X has been running at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Greifswald, Germany, since 2015, albeit only at low power and for brief runs. W7-X's developers took it down and replaced all inner walls and fittings with water-cooled equivalents, allowing for longer, hotter runs. The team reported at a W7-X board meeting last week that the revised plasma vessel has no leaks. It's expected to restart later this month to show if it can get plasma to fusion-igniting conditions.

Wendelstein 7-X’s twisting inner surface is now water cooled, enabling longer runs

Wendelstein 7-X's water-cooled inner surface allows for longer runs.

HOSAN/IPP

Both stellarators and tokamaks create magnetic gas cages hot enough to melt metal. Microwaves or particle beams heat. Extreme temperatures create a plasma, a seething mix of separated nuclei and electrons, and cause the nuclei to fuse, releasing energy. A fusion power plant would use deuterium and tritium, which react quickly. Non-energy-generating research machines like W7-X avoid tritium and use hydrogen or deuterium instead.

Tokamaks and stellarators use electromagnetic coils to create plasma-confining magnetic fields. A greater field near the hole causes plasma to drift to the reactor's wall.

Tokamaks control drift by circulating plasma around a ring. Streaming creates a magnetic field that twists and stabilizes ionized plasma. Stellarators employ magnetic coils to twist, not plasma. Once plasma physicists got powerful enough supercomputers, they could optimize stellarator magnets to improve plasma confinement.

W7-X is the first large, optimized stellarator with 50 6- ton superconducting coils. Its construction began in the mid-1990s and cost roughly twice the €550 million originally budgeted.

The wait hasn't disappointed researchers. W7-X director Thomas Klinger: "The machine operated immediately." "It's a friendly machine." It did everything we asked." Tokamaks are prone to "instabilities" (plasma bulging or wobbling) or strong "disruptions," sometimes associated to halted plasma flow. IPP theorist Sophia Henneberg believes stellarators don't employ plasma current, which "removes an entire branch" of instabilities.

In early stellarators, the magnetic field geometry drove slower particles to follow banana-shaped orbits until they collided with other particles and leaked energy. Gates believes W7-X's ability to suppress this effect implies its optimization works.

W7-X loses heat through different forms of turbulence, which push particles toward the wall. Theorists have only lately mastered simulating turbulence. W7-X's forthcoming campaign will test simulations and turbulence-fighting techniques.

A stellarator can run constantly, unlike a tokamak, which pulses. W7-X has run 100 seconds—long by tokamak standards—at low power. The device's uncooled microwave and particle heating systems only produced 11.5 megawatts. The update doubles heating power. High temperature, high plasma density, and extensive runs will test stellarators' fusion power potential. Klinger wants to heat ions to 50 million degrees Celsius for 100 seconds. That would make W7-X "a world-class machine," he argues. The team will push for 30 minutes. "We'll move step-by-step," he says.

W7-X's success has inspired VCs to finance entrepreneurs creating commercial stellarators. Startups must simplify magnet production.

Princeton Stellarators, created by Gates and colleagues this year, has $3 million to build a prototype reactor without W7-X's twisted magnet coils. Instead, it will use a mosaic of 1000 HTS square coils on the plasma vessel's outside. By adjusting each coil's magnetic field, operators can change the applied field's form. Gates: "It moves coil complexity to the control system." The company intends to construct a reactor that can fuse cheap, abundant deuterium to produce neutrons for radioisotopes. If successful, the company will build a reactor.

Renaissance Fusion, situated in Grenoble, France, raised €16 million and wants to coat plasma vessel segments in HTS. Using a laser, engineers will burn off superconductor tracks to carve magnet coils. They want to build a meter-long test segment in 2 years and a full prototype by 2027.

Type One Energy in Madison, Wisconsin, won DOE money to bend HTS cables for stellarator magnets. The business carved twisting grooves in metal with computer-controlled etching equipment to coil cables. David Anderson of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, claims advanced manufacturing technology enables the stellarator.

Anderson said W7-X's next phase will boost stellarator work. “Half-hour discharges are steady-state,” he says. “This is a big deal.”

Glorin Santhosh

Glorin Santhosh

2 days ago

In his final days, Steve Jobs sent an email to himself. What It Said Was This

An email capturing Steve Jobs's philosophy.

Photo by Konsepta Studio on Unsplash

Steve Jobs may have been the most inspired and driven entrepreneur.

He worked on projects because he wanted to leave a legacy.

Steve Jobs' final email to himself encapsulated his philosophy.

After his death from pancreatic cancer in October 2011, Laurene Powell Jobs released the email. He was 56.

Read: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (#BestSeller)

The Email:

September 2010 Steve Jobs email:

“I grow little of the food I eat, and of the little I do grow, I do not breed or perfect the seeds.” “I do not make my own clothing. I speak a language I did not invent or refine,” he continued. “I did not discover the mathematics I use… I am moved by music I did not create myself.”

Jobs ended his email by reflecting on how others created everything he uses.

He wrote:

“When I needed medical attention, I was helpless to help myself survive.”

From the Steve Jobs Archive

The Apple co-founder concluded by praising humanity.

“I did not invent the transistor, the microprocessor, object-oriented programming, or most of the technology I work with. I love and admire my species, living and dead, and am totally dependent on them for my life and well-being,” he concluded.

The email was made public as a part of the Steve Jobs Archive, a website that was launched in tribute to his legacy.

Steve Jobs' widow founded the internet archive. Apple CEO Tim Cook and former design leader Jony Ive were prominent guests.

Steve Jobs has always inspired because he shows how even the best can be improved.

High expectations were always there, and they were consistently met.

We miss him because he was one of the few with lifelong enthusiasm and persona.