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Elon Musk wins bet, finishing massive battery installation in 100 days

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Enlarge (credit: Tesla)

Tesla has completed construction of a massive 100 megawatt, 129 MWh battery installation in South Australia. The new facility boasts the largest megawatt rating for any grid-connected battery installation in the world.

The project was completed less than two months after the contract was signed on September 29, putting it ahead of schedule. Musk had promised Australian authorities that he would complete the project in 100 days or the project would be free. Musk has said it would cost Tesla "$50 million or more" if the company failed to meet the deadline.

"Congratulations to the Tesla crew and South Australian authorities who worked so hard to get this manufactured and installed in record time!" Musk tweeted late on Wednesday night (Thursday in Australia).

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fxer
11 hours ago
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Bend, Oregon
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Windows 10 switchover will cost Linux champion Munich €50m

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The German city of Munich will pay more than €50m if it decides to drop its custom Linux-based OS and return to Windows.

The cost of rolling out a Windows 10 desktop to about 29,000 PCs at the council was revealed by the authority yesterday.

Under the plan, the former open-source champion would pay €49.3 million to create a new Windows 10 client OS, which would be rolled out from 2020. The work would be carried out as part of a wider €89m overhaul of IT at the council, which would also include €3.1m spent on testing and training.

The move to Windows 10 would mark a major shift for an organization once at the vanguard of the open-source software movement. A decade ago Munich made headlines for switching thousands of PCs from Windows to Linux, at a time when a move on that scale was almost unheard of.

Munich's switch back to Windows 10 is waiting to be signed off by the full council on Thursday, however the move is all but certain to be approved.

The council says the move to Windows 10 will make it easier to source compatible applications and hardware drivers than it has been using a Linux-based OS, and will also reduce costs by not having to run a Windows and LiMux client side-by-side. Currently, roughly one-fifth of the PCs used at the council are Windows machines, a necessity due to the some line-of-business applications only running on Windows.

"The primary goal is to harmonize clients in a timely manner so that we end up using the new Windows client throughout the city," the council states in an official report.

The authority also lists multiple drawbacks of a return to Windows, including the need to buy licenses from Microsoft, the cost of the migration and retraining staff to use a new OS, and the loss of independence from a single software vendor, a driving factor behind the initial move to open-source software.

Under the plan, work to prepare the Windows 10 client would get underway in early 2018, with the client ready to begin rolling out from 2020 and the full migration completed by the end of 2022, possibly extending into early 2023. Until the rollout is complete in 2023, a custom version of the Linux-based OS Ubuntu, known as LiMux, will continue to be supported and used alongside Windows 10.

How the cost of returning to Windows compares to that of the original migration to LiMux is less clear, but in 2014 Munich mayor Dieter Reiter said going back to Microsoft would mean writing off about €14m of work it had carried out to shift to LiMux.

While there have been some complaints about software at the council, only a minority of staff had severe issues that they believed could be solved by migrating to Windows and Microsoft Office. And in March the city's IT chief also said there was 'no compelling technical reason to return to Windows', pointing out the authority had "solved compatibility and interoperability problems" related to running software on LiMux.

Don't miss: Munich: The journey from Windows to Linux and back again (free PDF)

The migration to Windows 10 will happen alongside a major reorganization and centralization of IT at the council, leading one insider at the council to warn it will impose needless pressure on Munich.

"I see it as really unnecessary. The problems won't be solved by migrating operating systems because we have a working Linux system," they said.

A major factor driving the decision to return to Windows appears to be changes in the political make-up of the council since the LiMux project began in 2003. Today the CSU political party, which has a long track record of opposition to LiMux, is also part of the ruling coalition in Munich. It was this coalition of CSU and SPD politicians that put forward the proposals to switch back to Windows 10 earlier this year.

As well as establishing a new Windows 10 client for use across the council, the authority will also have to create new infrastructure and processes to manage and update the Windows client and to handle identity assurance and access management.

Much of the software that runs on LiMux is platform-independent, reducing work needed to port software to Windows 10, according to the council's assessment, which says existing software should be running on Windows 10 by no later than March 2023.

The council expects to take on five additional "Windows engineers" who will help migrate applications to the new client.

Going back to Microsoft Office

A proposal that Munich should also switch from the open-source office suite LibreOffice to Microsoft Office is more complicated, due to what the council calls the potential "high costs" of such a move. For that reason the council will only be asked to approve a pilot of Microsoft Office on Thursday. Under this trial, 6,000 instances of Microsoft Office 2016 would be run on virtual machines, to assess the costs and the technical barriers to a wholesale move to Microsoft Office. There are indications that a full rollout of Microsoft Office 2016 could be even more expensive than the return to Windows, with one report suggesting the combined cost with the Windows migration could be higher than €100m.

Those familiar with IT at the council have said the move to Microsoft Office 2016 would be particularly challenging, due to staff relying on thousands of LibreOffice templates and macros that would have to be converted, alongside the development of a new templating system.

"There is a custom templating system called WollMux, which obviously doesn't work with Microsoft Office. There are tens of thousands of templates associated with WollMux, and all of those would have to be migrated," said a Munich insider.

The results of the Microsoft Office pilot will be assessed by an external auditor, who will present their findings to the council by the end of 2018. If the move to Microsoft Office does go ahead, it is not expected to be completed before the end of 2023, with the council saying it will necessitate the migration of what are "sometimes very complex tables and macros".

Even the council warns that staff expectations may have to be managed during the migration to Windows 10 and reorganization, to help stave off a user backlash against disruption to IT at the council.

"The new IT organization is only just beginning to find its feet, and the newly defined processes first have to be implemented, which can temporarily reduce the performance and overall available capacity of the IT," it states.

"So if the measures are going to successfully implemented, it's important from the outset that they're accompanied by targeted expectation and change management to reduce negative effects and minimize the consequences of the reorganization."

Under proposals for the future of IT at Munich, the council also wants to significantly increase the number of applications that are run on virtualized infrastructure or in web browsers. By creating these "platform-independent" applications, the council believes it could reduce the time it takes to test and update clients.

A view over Munich.

Read more on Windows and Munich...


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fxer
15 hours ago
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well maybe Munich shouldn't have rolled their own distro and selected business app software that only runs on Windows. seems like they really hamstrung their own Linux effort every step of the way.
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Poll: Economists Unanimous That Debt Would Balloon Under GOP Tax Plan

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White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway (3rd L) speaks as (L-R) U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin listen during a news conference on tax reform November 7, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

A poll found that 38 economists agree the GOP tax plan will not pay for itself through growth. In fact, they're doubtful that growth will happen anyway.

(Image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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fxer
15 hours ago
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ProtonMail bolts on an encrypted contacts manager and digital signing for contacts

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 Another neat addition to end-to-end encrypted email client ProtonMail: It’s added a zero-access encrypted contacts manager that also digitally signs the contact info you store in it.  Read More




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fxer
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So, you want to send a probe to catch up to ‘Oumuamua…

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Enlarge / An illustration of a New Horizons spacecraft atop an illustration of 'Oumuamua. Nothing is to scale. (credit: European Southern Observatory / M. Kornmesser )

A little more than a month ago, an interstellar visitor now known as 'Oumuamua passed within 24 million kilometers of Earth. It is now moving rapidly away from our planet at a velocity of approximately 26km/s. That is considerably faster than, say, the Voyager 1 spacecraft, which is hurtling beyond the Solar System at a velocity of 17km/s.

The first interstellar object is doubly intriguing because humans have never been able to study something from beyond the Solar System up close. Moreover, recent observations have shown that 'Oumuamua has a reddish color, astronomers say, and unexpected oblong shape, like that of a giant, 400-meter-long cigar. Already, the object is fading from view, and we will never see it again as it zooms away.

But what if we could? NASA is building what will be the world's most powerful rocket, the Space Launch System. Would it be capable of launching a small probe to catch 'Oumuamua? Do we have any technology that can catch this interstellar interloper?

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fxer
1 day ago
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Sugar industry withheld possible evidence of cancer link 50 years ago

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Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, said they have uncovered documents demonstrating that members of the sugar industry called off a study, named Project 259, in the 1960s because it linked sucrose — a common sugar — to heart disease and bladder cancer in preliminary experiments.

In 2016, the same researchers discovered a separate, undisclosed document that showed the sugar industry funded a report that downplayed links between sugar and coronary heart disease.

But a trade group argues the sugar industry was always transparent about Project 259 and that it supports science-based evidence even if the results are unfavorable. Here’s a breakdown of what UCSF researchers found.

How the researchers spotted Project 259

UCSF dentist Cristin Kearns started digging into the sugar industry 10 years ago, after representatives at a conference said there is “no scientific consensus” that sugar is linked to chronic illnesses. She combed through library archives across the nation and eventually stumbled across a box containing “confidential” documents on “Project 259.”

In 1968, the Sugar Research Foundation launched a rodent study, which measured the nutritional products of gut bacteria after rats consumed sucrose compared to starch. Project 259’s early results showed that sucrose caused gut microbes to throw off the rodents’ metabolisms, increasing their levels of triglycerides. Triglycerides are fatty molecules, which when elevated, can clog arteries and predispose a person for cardiovascular disease. In a preliminary experiment, Project 259 also found a high-sugar diet boosts the activity of beta-glucuronidase, an enzyme linked to bladder cancer, when compared to a starch diet. The second half of the study, which would have taken a deeper look at starch, was never finished.

After reporting this discovery in August 1970 to the International Sugar Research Foundation, Project 259 scientists requested an additional 12 weeks of funding to continue the research, according to internal documents. One month later, Sugar Research Foundation’s Vice President of Research John Hickson described the value of Project 259 as “nil,” Glantz and Kearns state. The funding request was denied, and the project was abandoned in 1971.

Kearns and UCSF cardiologist Stanton Glantz, who revealed the project’s details in an analysis published Tuesday in PLOS Biology, argue that the sugar industry buried the evidence and stopped funding due to the negative findings.

What the sugar industry says: Courtney Gaine, the president and CEO of the Sugar Association, said the researchers’ assessment is nothing more than, “a series of assumptions and speculations.”

“They never called us. We would have let them look at the archives. I would let them look tomorrow. The story we have in our archives is a lot better than the story they’ve been telling,” Gaine said.

Gaine said her own internal investigation found that Project 259 was cancelled right when the Sugar Research Foundation was dividing into two organizations: the Sugar Association and the International Sugar Research Foundation (which is now World Sugar Research Organization). Adding to the bureaucratic shuffle, the study suffered from long delays and going significantly over budget, Gaine said. (Glantz, in opposition, argued that such delays are inherent to research).

Project 259 was ultimately handed over to the British Nutrition Foundation to complete, Gaine said, and added that her documentation ends there. She said the Sugar Association doesn’t know why the British Nutrition Foundation failed to complete the study.

Why this matters: “Evidence was emerging in the 1950s and 1960s that linked sugar consumption to heart disease, but the sugar industry was interested in casting doubt on that evidence. In [Project 259] they were proving that to themselves and then saying something different to the public,” University of California’s Kearns said.

Gaine countered that the Sugar Association wasn’t trying to hide anything. When it comes to sugar, “there has always been an understanding that there is too much of a good thing,” she said, arguing that the industry looks into any negative health claims because they “want to know if they are accurate.”

Gaine added that the Sugar Association supports the dietary guidelines of sugar in moderation based on the FDA recommendation that only 10 percent of daily caloric intake should come from sugar. She also pointed out one of the funders for Glantz and Kearns’ investigation is Gary Taubes, co-founder of Nutrition Science Initiative and author of the book “The Case Against Sugar.” Another funder — the Laura and John Arnold Foundation — once gave $500,000 to support a lawsuit in favor of taxes on sugary beverages.

But, Kearns believes that had the preliminary results been confirmed and published, it would have caused more scrutiny of sugar as a carcinogenic food additive. In the late 1960s, artificial sweeteners were being examined over similar concerns. A 1969 study found cyclamate, an artificial sweetener, increased the risk of bladder cancer in rats, and this sweetener was banned shortly afterward.

Both Gaine and Glantz said Project 259 was cutting edge for its time, given its focus on the gut microbiome. Kearns said that completing Project 259 and disclosing its findings could have hastened the onset of “precision medicine” — developing targeted interventions for people with heart disease based on their risk factors. This customized health care considers, for example, looking at the blood profile (cholesterol and triglycerides) to recommend either a low fat or a low sugar and carb diet.

“Whether you are talking about the sugar industry, or tobacco, or oil industry and climate change — the basic game they are playing is to try to slow down the development of a strong scientific consensus that could drive policy change,” Glantz said.


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fxer
1 day ago
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