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On the Art of Climate Change Communication | Orion Magazine

On the Art of Climate Change Communication | Orion Magazine | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

I'm writing this from Santiago, Chile—a vibrant, modern city of about six million people nestled into a verdant valley in the Southern Andes. I’m here to film part of an upcoming Showtime series on climate change called Years of Living Dangerously, and I just came back from an expedition to the receding Tupungatio glacier—the source for the main river that feeds and waters Santiago—accompanying Dr. Paul Mayewski of the University of Maine, one of the foremost experts on glacial ice cores and abrupt climate change.

 

In a perverse way, my timing couldn’t be better, because just a couple of weeks ago something drastic happened in Santiago: The city lost its water supply for two days. Several million people woke up, turned on their taps, and watched incredulously as they dribbled dry. And climate change was almost certainly a factor.

 

Unlike other countries in the region, Chile is well known for its superb and plentiful water. The sudden crisis elevated water—and public panic—to the front pages of the newspapers. A powerful, high-elevation rainstorm had triggered mudslides that fouled up the country’s rivers so badly that Chile’s private utility company was forced to shut its intake pumps. It is also probable that a glacial dam had ruptured, sending more debris downstream. Such events are more likely in the rapidly warming Southern Andean environment.

 

My presence in Santiago has drawn attention from the local media—and what everyone wants to know about is water. Did I see anything on the way to Tupungatito that might indicate future trouble with water supplies for the city—and if so, what can be done?

 

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Internet services blocked in Vadodara after riots | The Times of India

Internet services blocked in Vadodara after riots | The Times of India | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

To control rumours in the city after two days of rioting, the city police has ordered mobile service providers to discontinue mobile internet services for three days beginning Saturday morning. The decision came as a surprise to most citizens and to many it meant inconvenience in business.

Cellular data services, including 2G and 3G internet services barring landline broadband, group SMS as well as MMS services were ordered shut till Tuesday morning. No formal announcement was made regarding this by the city police or the internet service providers.

Several Walled City areas witnessed heavy rioting on Thursday and Friday. The trouble began in Fatehpura after a tuition class owner posted a morphed picture of a famous Muslim religious shrine. The riots then spread to many other areas.

Vadodara police commissioner E Radhakrishnan said the decision had become necessary as there was a lot of rumour mongering on Friday due to messaging services. "If the situation remains peaceful, we may allow the services to continue before Tuesday," he said.


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Strong start for Netflix in France | Chris Dziadul | BroadbandTVNews.com

Strong start for Netflix in France | Chris Dziadul | BroadbandTVNews.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Concerns that Netflix will find France a difficult market to crack may already be proving to be wide of the mark, with the service attracting more than 100,000 subscribers in its first 15 days in the country.

According to Le Figaro, this is already one fifth of the 520,000 claimed by the Canal+ SVOD service CanalPlay, which has been up and running for three years.

In effect, Netflix’s initial growth is ten times faster than that of CanalPlay.

However, it should be born in mind that Netflix is being offered free of charge for a month, with viewers then being charged between €7.99 and €11.99 monthly to receive the service.

This may significantly slow down its early growth.

Netflix’s stated goal is to be accessed by a third of French homes in the next five to 10 years.


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Why Our Ancestors Built Round Houses – and Why it Still Makes Sense to Build Round Structures Today | InHabitat.com

Why Our Ancestors Built Round Houses – and Why it Still Makes Sense to Build Round Structures Today | InHabitat.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Why did our ancestors build round? Because the ovid shape- egg, earth, tree trunks, stones -- is what they saw reflected in the surrounding natural environment.


Wind and tsunami waves move naturally around a round building rather than getting caught at (and potentially ripping off) corners. A rounded roof avoids ‘air-planing’- a situation where a strong wind lifts the roof structure up and off of the building.

There are dozens of interconnected points in a round home. These are sites where builders can connect parts of the building together. In the olden days, the connecting materials were rope, vine and hides. Modern materials are engineered components- like a center radial steel ring, steel brackets, Seismic and hurricane ties, bolts and steel cables. These connect the structural pieces and give the building a unique combination of flexibility and strength- qualities which causes them to be significantly safer in severe weather conditions like earth quakes, extreme winds and heavy snow­fall.


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Will Windows 10 address the operating system's biggest weakness? | Andy Patrizio | NetworkWorld.com

Will Windows 10 address the operating system's biggest weakness? | Andy Patrizio | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

So the wraps are off, and no one got the name change right. Windows 10 comes with a whole lot of promises, not the least of which is that the company is listening to users and wants their feedback. So something tells me this OS will not be met with the derision of Windows 8.

At the grand unveiling, numerous features were discussed, from the interesting (multiple desktops) to the silly (ctrl-v pasting in the DOS prompt). One of the promises made was that Windows 10 would eliminate the need for reinstalls when a new OS version came out.

Microsoft is promising continuous, ever-evolving upgrades to the operating system so people won't have to erase the hard drive and start over, like all current users of Windows 7 and 8 are going to have to do when 10 comes out next year.

This might not sit well with IT, because they don't like disruption. Microsoft may push out significant updates the way it does bug fixes on Patch Tuesday, but IT might not want them immediately or they will have to test the updates. And then there's the fact that Microsoft released some bug fixes, so the company is putting its own neck on the line.

The real question on my mind is whether Windows 10 will finally address a problem that has plagued pretty much every Windows OS since at least 95: the decay of the system over time. As you add and remove apps, as Windows writes more and more temporary and junk files, over time, a system just slows down.


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Climate Change is Every Mothers Fight | Charina Nadura | BillMoyers.com

Climate Change is Every Mothers Fight | Charina Nadura | BillMoyers.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Imagine the place you call “home” is in danger of disappearing. You don’t know when it will happen, but you know how and why. For many people around the world this fear of losing their homes in the not-too-distant future is a constant worry.

During yesterday’s UN Climate Summit, a climate change activist from a place most Americans probably have never heard of made headlines for delivering what many called the most moving speech of the day. Out of 500 women candidates, the 27-year-old poet from the Marshall Islands was chosen to address the United Nations as the Civil Society Representative. Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner talked about how her home and many other small developing islands such as Antigua and Barbuda and the Solomon Islands are in danger of disappearing because of sea level rise due to climate change. She delivered an emotional and surreal speech, followed by a chilling poem she wrote for her seven-month-old daughter.

“Those of us from Oceania are already experiencing it firsthand. We’ve seen waves crashing into our homes and our breadfruit trees wither from the salt and drought. We look at our children and we wonder how they will know themselves or their culture should we lose our islands,” Jetnil-Kijiner told world leaders.

Below is her speech and the poem that brought leaders to their feet and moved many to tears.


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Switzerland: Swisscom teams up with SES to serve unserved 2% with satellite broadband | TeleGeography.com

Luxembourg-based satellite firm SES has announced that it has signed an agreement with Swisscom to provide its always-on two-way satellite ‘Astra Connect’ service in Switzerland.


The Swiss incumbent, which provides nationwide broadband access under the terms of the Universal Broadband Service Obligation (UBSO), currently lacks DSL connectivity that meets the ‘required minimum transmission rate’ in around 2% of Swiss homes, and seeks to rectify this issue using a bidirectional satellite solution from SES.


The Astra Connect service uses Ka-band capacity on SES’s satellite ASTRA 2E, which entered into commercial service on 1 February 2014.

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Singapore likely to need 1GHz of spectrum for mobile broadband by 2020 | TeleGeography.com

Aileen Chia, deputy director general at Singapore’s telecoms watchdog the Info-communications Development Authority (IDA), has highlighted that the country may require as much as 1GHz of additional spectrum for mobile broadband by 2020, Mobile World Live reports.


Mrs Chia disclosed that the IDA intends to release a portion of ‘white space’ TV spectrum, of which around 180MHz could be made available for telecoms use; the relevant regulation is expected to take effect in November.

Alongside the release of additional frequencies, the IDA is reviewing complementary methods of delivering the necessary capacity to keep up with demand. ‘We are planning to facilitate the deployment of a heterogeneous network comprising mobile networks, Wi-Fi and small cell networks’, the deputy director general said.


Further, Chia disclosed that the IDA is looking into authorising the entry of new mobile service providers in the market, although she added: ‘We first want to understand the possible mechanisms needed to evaluate and facilitate new entries.’

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Algeria: Mobilis to launch 3G in 16 wilayas from December | TeleGeography.com

Mobilis, the wireless arm of fixed line incumbent telco Algerie Telecom (AT), has announced plans to expand its 3G services to 16 additional wilayas (provinces) from December 2014, Agence Ecofin reports, thus increasing its footprint to a total of 35 wilayas.


Mobilis CEO Saad Damma reportedly said: ‘Mobilis is on schedule, as dictated by the Autorite de Regulation de la Poste et des Telecoms (ARPT). All necessary measures have been taken to this end’. The executive highlighted that the DZD115 billion (USD1.4 billion) loan granted by the government to parent AT in March 2013 to improve its services will help with the deployment.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, under the terms set out by its 3G licence, Mobilis was granted one year exclusivity in the provinces of Batna and Laghouat, while also being required to provide 3G coverage in 19 wilayas by the end of the first year of operation.


The company is required to extend its 3G footprint to 16 additional provinces by end-2015, namely: Adrar, Bechar, Bejaia, Bouira, Boumerdes, Chlef, El Tarf, Ghardaia, Guelma, Medea, M’Sila, Oum el Bouaghi, Relizane, Skikda, Souk Ahras and Tamanrasset. The remaining 13 provinces (Ain Temouchent, Bordj Bou Arreridj, El Bayadh, Illizi, Jijel, Khenchela, Mascara, Mila, Mostaganem, Naama, Saida, Tindouf and Tissemsilt) must be covered by end-2016.

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Zambia: Airtel enhancing 3G base stations to improve internet access | TeleGeography.com

Airtel Zambia disclosed in a press release that it is upgrading its base stations across the country with a view to improving internet access for its customers.


To date, 58 3G cell sites have been upgraded with faster technology since July 2014 while a further 242 site upgrades are expected to be completed by end of the year, according to the statement issued by the cellco’s head of corporate communications, Yuyo Kambikambi.


So far 14 sites have been upgraded in Central Province, twelve in Copperbelt, eight in Southern province, seven each in Eastern, Lusaka and Northern provinces, plus three in Western province.


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Storm warning: The winds of climate change | Anil Ananthaswamy & Michael Le Page | New Scientist

Storm warning: The winds of climate change | Anil Ananthaswamy & Michael Le Page | New Scientist | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Faster winds are affecting how much heat and carbon dioxide the oceans soak up, with immense consequences for us all

JOELLEN RUSSELL can still feel the terror of the Southern Ocean. In 1994, at the start of her career as an oceanographer, she spent two months there on a research voyage. It was a punishing trip. The winds consistently roared at near-gale force or worse, stirring up huge waves. "The waves were so big that our 300-foot ship would slide down them as if it were surfing and dig its prow into the next wave," she says. "The wave would fall on you like a mountain of black water."

Today, a similar voyage could well be even worse. The waves around Antarctica are growing bigger, because the westerly winds that circle the continent are shifting southwards and growing stronger. These speedier westerlies are making waves in more ways than one. The Southern Ocean might seem a world away, but what happens there affects us all.

That's because the Southern Ocean is the door to the deep, the place where stupendous amounts of heat and carbon dioxide can enter the oceans – or escape from them. The changing winds are affecting how much goes in and out. In the short term, the deep could soak up more heat, slowing surface warming – a bit like flinging open the door on a hot day. But there are immense dangers, too. If the door opens too wide, it could let carbon dioxide from the deep oceans escape. If it slams shut instead, the surface – where we live – will warm faster and end up even hotter.

The speed-up of the winds is just one part of a global change in air circulation patterns. As CO2 levels go up, the planet is being rezoned. The dry belts around 30° north and south are expanding and creeping towards the poles. Russell, who is at the University of Arizona, Tucson, thinks the effects can already be seen where she lives. "We are in a 13-year drought," she says. "Dry winters mean that there is pressure on the reservoirs; you can see bathtub rings on lakes. Our cacti are a little droopy, and we have had bark beetle infestations mowing through forests, which don't look like they are going to grow back because it's too dry for trees."

Sailors were the first to discover the global wind patterns, which are produced by the heat of the sun and the rotation of the Earth. In a broad zone around the equator, the winds usually blow from the east. Beyond the latitudes of 30° north or south, though, the winds blow from the west (see diagram). The hot, humid air near the equator rises, producing lots of rain and supporting lush rainforests. As surface winds rush towards the equator to replace this air, they are deflected by Earth's rotation and so become easterlies – the trade winds. Higher up in the atmosphere, the air that rose from the equator moves polewards and descends at about 30 ° latitude. Under this dry, sinking air there is hardly any rainfall, creating belts of desert around the world. These great circulatory loops are called Hadley cells. On each side of them, some of the descending air flows polewards, becoming the great westerlies.


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How big data Is helping to save the planet | Thor Olavsrud | ComputerWorld.com

How big data Is helping to save the planet | Thor Olavsrud | ComputerWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A little more than a year ago, Conservation International (CI) was wrestling with a mammoth big data problem.

The nonprofit environmental organization's mission is to protect nature and its biodiversity, but monitoring and analyzing the health of species — particularly in the tropical forests that half of all plants and animals on earth call home — was a manual and labor-intensive process.

At 16 sites across four continents, CI had established a network of 1,000 camera traps — cameras equipped with motion sensors that trigger when animals pass through their field of view. Set up over 2,000 square kilometers at each site, the camera captures images of passing fauna in an effort to synthesize and understand the effects of climate change and land-use change on tropical terrestrial mammal and bird diversity.

"You and I go to the doctor and we get our vital signs checked — our temperature, our blood pressure," says Sandy Andelman, chief scientist at CI. "Well, we need those sorts of vital signs for the planet, and that's what we're really trying to do at Conservation International with TEAM [Tropical Ecology, Assessment and Monitoring Network] and with other programs."

"What we do is we put camera traps, so it's kind of like Candid Camera," she adds. "We put these traps all through the forest, and it allows us to find out what's there and what the animals are doing."

Because the camera traps are located in some of the more remote locations on earth, there's no infrastructure. Teams have to manually collect the data from the traps and upload it, at which point CI scientists run a series of scripts and models to identify the various species appearing in the images. They then blend that data with climate measurements (precipitation, temperature, humidity, solar radiation, etc.), data on trees (growth, survival, deforestation, etc.) and land use data from public sources to create a model of the health of the animal populations at the sites and how they are changing over time.

"Everything is connected in the world," says Jorge Ahumada, acting executive director of the Tropical Ecology, Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network at CI. "Nature doesn't live in countries; nature lives as a unity. If we want to preserve this world, and we want to do it in a smart way, we need to be able to assess how we're doing and react quickly."


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Walrus mass in vast numbers on Alaska beach as sea ice retreats | The Guardian

Walrus mass in vast numbers on Alaska beach as sea ice retreats | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Pacific walrus that can’t find sea ice for resting in Arctic waters are coming ashore in record numbers on a beach in north-west Alaska.

An estimated 35,000 walrus were photographed on Saturday about five miles north of Point Lay, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Point Lay is an Inupiat village 700 miles (1,126 kilometres) north-west of Anchorage.

The enormous gathering was spotted during NOAA’s annual arctic marine mammal aerial survey, spokeswoman Julie Speegle said by email.

The gathering of walrus on shore is a phenomenon that has accompanied the loss of summer sea ice as the climate has warmed.

Pacific walrus spend winters in the Bering Sea. Females give birth on sea ice and use ice as a diving platform to reach snails, clams and worms on the shallow continental shelf.

Unlike seals, walrus cannot swim indefinitely and must rest. They use their tusks to “haul out”, or pull themselves onto ice or rocks.

As temperatures warm in summer, the edge of the sea ice recedes north. Females and their young ride the edge of the sea ice into the Chukchi Sea, the body of water north of the Bering Strait.

In recent years, sea ice has receded north beyond shallow continental shelf waters and into Arctic Ocean water, where depths exceed two miles and walrus cannot dive to the bottom.

The World Wildlife Fund said walrus had also been gathering in large groups on the Russian side of the Chukchi Sea.

“It’s another remarkable sign of the dramatic environmental conditions changing as the result of sea ice loss,” said Margaret Williams, managing director of the group’s Arctic program.


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FireChat – the messaging app that’s powering the Hong Kong protests | Archie Bland | The Guardian

FireChat – the messaging app that’s powering the Hong Kong protests | Archie Bland | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Joshua Wong, a 17-year-old student in Hong Kong, had a problem. You will have experienced a version of it yourself: you are at a football match or a gig and you need to find a friend. But the crowd means that the network is overloaded, and you can’t get a signal on your phone. The thing that means you need to call someone is the very thing that means you can’t.

For Wong, the problem was more serious: he wasn’t at a football match, but playing a leading role in the organisation of the pro-democracy protests that have shaken his city over the past week. And he wasn’t just worried the network would be overloaded – he was worried the authorities would block it on purpose.

Every major display of social unrest these days seems to come with a game-changing technological accompaniment. The London riots were narrated on BlackBerry Messenger. Twitter played an essential role in the Arab spring. Turkish protesters who found the internet blocked turned to censor-proof Virtual Private Networks. But none of those innovations was much use without a connection. For Wong and his allies in Hong Kong, the answer was an app that allows people to send messages from phone to phone without mobile reception, or the internet: FireChat.


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Akamai: Broadband Speeds Tip 4 Mbps Globally; DDoS Attacks Down 15% | Ingrid Lundeb | TechCrunch

Akamai: Broadband Speeds Tip 4 Mbps Globally; DDoS Attacks Down 15% | Ingrid Lundeb | TechCrunch | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Internet speeds, fuelled by the growth of cellular networks and low-cost smartphones and tablets, are on the rise, and this last quarter the world finally reached a tipping point. Globally, we have finally passed average connection speeds of 4 megabits per second — the threshold for global “broadband” connectivity. The figures come from Akamai, which provides quarterly updates on connection speeds and security in its State of the Internet report.

At the same time, it appears that at least one of the biggest types of internet threat traffic is on the decline: distributed denial of service attacks are down by 15% compared to a year ago.

Connection speeds are not only growing, but they are accelerating: as a point of comparison, it was only a year ago that just half the world’s Internet connections were exceeding 4 Mbps. In the last quarter they have gone up by 21% and are now at 4.6 Mbps, working out to a year-on-year rise of over40%.

It’s a small but significant milestone in global broadband connectivity. Four Mbps may not sound like much to people in some places — in the U.S., for example, states like Washington and Delaware are seeing peak speeds of over 50 Mbps — and in some countries, like Brazil, the average isn’t even yet past 3 Mbps. But it is a sign that things are gradually improving overall. Those are statistics that will have an impact on the kinds of services that can be developed for consumers and businesses everywhere.

Some other notable highlights from the report:


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How solar can become the world's largest source of electricity | David Roberts | Grist.org

How solar can become the world's largest source of electricity | David Roberts | Grist.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Back in May, the (typically stodgy and conservative) International Energy Agency released its annual Energy Technology Perspectives report. It was focused on electricity.

It began by noting that the carbon intensity of the global energy system has not declined substantially in the last 40 years or so. Despite all the hue and cry about climate and sustainability, our trajectory — more and more carbon, climate doom impending — refuses to budge.

It then noted that the world’s energy system is becoming increasingly electrified. Electricity’s share of total global energy use has climbed from 9 percent in the ’70s to 17 percent today; depending on how things play out, that’s expected to rise to around 25 percent by 2050. (I would bet substantial money that even that is an underestimate.)

That could be a good or a bad thing. If the carbon intensity of global electricity remains the same, it would massively drive up emissions, because, well, coal. On the bright side, though, electricity is much easier to decarbonize than liquid fuels, so electrification presents a big opportunity to take a chunk out of global emissions. Specifically, to get on IEA’s “2DS” pathway — that is, to keep warming at or under 2 degrees C warming, per international agreement — the carbon intensity of global electricity would have to plunge by 90 percent.

Luckily, IEA concluded, that’s doable. It would cost a lot — global investments in electricity systems, including grids and storage, would have to roughly double — but the fuel savings alone would mean the benefits outweigh the costs. It won’t happen on its own, though. The mix of policies and technologies needed, from flexible grids to energy storage to solar, would require systems thinking, planning, and political coordination.

Anyway, that’s all background. Today, the IEA released two new solar-power roadmaps, one for solar PV and the other for solar thermal. The interesting news therein is twofold.


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Earth has lost half of its wildlife in the past 40 years, says WWF | Damian Carrington | The Guardian

Earth has lost half of its wildlife in the past 40 years, says WWF | Damian Carrington | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The number of wild animals on Earth has halved in the past 40 years, according to a new analysis. Creatures across land, rivers and the seas are being decimated as humans kill them for food in unsustainable numbers, while polluting or destroying their habitats, the research by scientists at WWF and the Zoological Society of London found.

“If half the animals died in London zoo next week it would be front page news,” said Professor Ken Norris, ZSL’s director of science. “But that is happening in the great outdoors. This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live.” He said nature, which provides food and clean water and air, was essential for human wellbeing.

“We have lost one half of the animal population and knowing this is driven by human consumption, this is clearly a call to arms and we must act now,” said Mike Barratt, director of science and policy at WWF. He said more of the Earth must be protected from development and deforestation, while food and energy had to be produced sustainably.

The steep decline of animal, fish and bird numbers was calculated by analysing 10,000 different populations, covering 3,000 species in total. This data was then, for the first time, used to create a representative “Living Planet Index” (LPI), reflecting the state of all 45,000 known vertebrates.

“We have all heard of the FTSE 100 index, but we have missed the ultimate indicator, the falling trend of species and ecosystems in the world,” said Professor Jonathan Baillie, ZSL’s director of conservation. “If we get [our response] right, we will have a safe and sustainable way of life for the future,” he said.

If not, he added, the overuse of resources would ultimately lead to conflicts. He said the LPI was an extremely robust indicator and had been adopted by UN’s internationally-agreed Convention on Biological Diversity as key insight into biodiversity.


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To combat fragmentation, ARM built a new type of OS for the Internet of Things | Stacey Higginbotham | GigaOM Tech News

To combat fragmentation, ARM built a new type of OS for the Internet of Things | Stacey Higginbotham | GigaOM Tech News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

ARM may be a chip design firm, but like its rival Intel, it also spends a lot of time and money on building software. And to help cement its growing prominence in the world of battery-powered connected devices, ARM has designed a new operating system by adding more capabilities to its mBed software development platform.

Called mbed OS, the new operating system is designed to run on the lower-level M-class of microcontrollers that generally ran one of many customized real-time operating systems, or RTOSes. These RTOSes were originally developed for the embedded world and were proprietary and not very flexible. But they were lightweight and could operate on tiny microcontrollers. As more developers flock to the internet of things, though, having a bunch of customized RTOSes represents a brake on innovation — which is why ARM decided to build mbed OS for inside devices like the Misfit Shine pictured above.

The OS consists of a device-side OS that runs on ARM’s M-class designs and a server side piece of software called mbed Device Server that will run in virtualized environments and other types of chips. The OS design means that constrained and relatively “dumb” devices can communicate back to smarter ones running higher power OSes.


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Exxon Mobil fracking report responds to shareholders | FuelFix.com

Exxon Mobil fracking report responds to shareholders | FuelFix.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Exxon Mobil issued a report Tuesday that acknowledges the environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing but also defends the practice as being better for the environment than other types of energy production and generation.

Under pressure from the corporate responsibility group As You Sow, as well as New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and other shareholders, Exxon agreed earlier this year to reveal more about how it manages the risks involved with the drilling technique, known as fracking.

The report acknowledges that drilling wells and producing oil and gas from shale formations and other so-called unconventional sources do carry risks, including the possibility of water contamination and leaks of natural gas into the atmosphere that contribute to climate change.

“Hydraulic fracturing has been responsibly and safely used by the oil and gas industry for more than 60 years, but the process isn’t without risks,” said Jeffrey Woodbury, vice president of investor relations, in a statement.

But the report also reads like a defense of unconventional oil and gas production and fracking. It cites studies that have failed to show direct links between cracking rock to allow oil and gas to escape and water contamination, and it goes into detail about the benefits of unconventional oil and gas production and how it compares favorably to many other types of energy production and generation.

Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow, said Tuesday’s report falls far short of the specific data she and others had been calling for.

“Exxon continues to discuss generalized practices…but provides no concrete data on whether it is actually reducing risks and impacts at each of the plays in which it is conducting fracking,” she said.


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Australia: Telstra to switch on trial Wi-Fi locations in November | TeleGeography.com

Australian fixed line incumbent Telstra has announced that its plans to create what it claims will be the country’s largest Wi-Fi network are a step closer to being realised, with it confirming that it expects the first 1,000 hotspots to be switched on for trials before Christmas 2014.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in May 2014 Telstra said it would it spend AUD100 million (USD92.5 million) as part of a programme intended to boost connectivity across the country. Under the company’s plans it aims to offer all Australians, not just its own customers, access to two million Wi-Fi hotspots within five years.


In addition to domestic coverage, Telstra expects to offer access overseas via more than twelve million international hotspots, as part of a deal it concluded with global Wi-Fi provider, Fon.


To create the domestic infrastructure, Telstra said a number of actions would be taken, including offering Telstra home broadband customers new gateways which will allow them to securely share a portion of their bandwidth with other Telstra Wi-Fi customers, in exchange for which they can access their own home broadband allowance at Telstra hotspots across the nation.


More than 8,000 Wi-Fi hotspots will also be constructed across the country, meanwhile, with a view to bringing connectivity to community areas and social precincts as well as shopping strips, business centres and transport hubs.


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Belgium: BIPT confirms deregulation of fixed voice services | TeleGeography.com

In the wake of claims earlier this month that European Union (EU) regulators were preparing to remove limits on the prices that fixed network operators can charge for accessing their networks, the Belgian Institute for Post and Telecommunications (BIPT) has confirmed it will no longer regulate fixed telephony services for residential or business customers.


In making the announcement the Belgian watchdog also confirmed that it had decided to lift the price control and transparency obligations imposed on fixed line incumbent Belgacom at the retail level, saying it was doing so as the telco was ‘increasingly facing competition’. The 24 September 2014 decision replaces the regulator’s previous ruling on the matter of 6 November 2008.

As reported by Reuters earlier in September, the EU’s member states were said to have approved a union-wide measure related to new recommendations, paving the way for its formal adoption by mid-October 2014.


The EU’s existing ‘recommendation on relevant markets’ defines those telecoms markets that are subject to regulation at the EU level with a view to ensuring there is enough competition among operators.


However, if national regulators can show that a particular market is not dominated by a single operator then they can deregulate it. Meanwhile, as per the new recommendations national regulators will not need to provide proof to remove limits on wholesale prices.


In addition, the final decision on whether to open a market will rest with the national regulators, in line with which Germany’s telecoms regulator signalled in July that it would continue to regulate prices for fixed calls.


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MTel, Vodafone, Telenor, Digi win Hungarian 4G frequencies | TeleGeography.com

The National Media and Infocommunications Authority of Hungary (NMHH) has announced its sale of mobile broadband frequencies to four operators following a successful tender on Monday 29 September.


The companies will pay a total of HUF130.6 billion (USD530.25 million) for the 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz frequencies. The 800MHz (‘digital dividend’) and 2600MHz bands were previously unavailable for mobile services in Hungary.

Deutsche Telekom’s Hungarian unit Magyar Telekom (MTel, including its T-Mobile cellular division) will pay HUF58.65 billion for spectrum in the 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz bands, while the Hungarian subsidiaries of Norway’s Telenor and Britain’s Vodafone now owe HUF31.73 billion and HUF30.23 billion respectively, with both buying frequencies in the 800MHz/900MHz/2600MHz bands.


Romanian-owned broadband and pay-TV operator DIGI Telecommunications, a new entrant to the Hungarian mobile market, is to pay HUF10.0 billion for an 1800MHz band LTE-suitable network operating licence.


The frequencies are valid for 20 years until 2034, with the NMHH saying the fees are to be paid to the Hungarian State Treasury by 9 October 2014.


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Taiwan: Far EasTone ups 4G subscriber forecast again as sign-ups top 400,000 | TeleGeography.com

Taiwan’s Far EasTone Telecommunications (FET) has reportedly claimed a 40% of the nation’s nascent 4G market, having revealed that it now signed up some 400,000 to such services.


According to the Taipei Times, the announcement comes just a week after the telco had raised its forecast for LTE uptake by at least 20% for this year, with strong demand for the new iPhone said to have helped boost customer interest.

With 3.5% of the operator’s total wireless subscriber base now taking an LTE-based service, just three months after it inaugurated services over its 4G network, FET president Yvonne Li was cited as saying that customer response to the new tariffs had exceeded expectations. Indeed, the executive even went as far as saying that the forecast for sign-ups could be revised upwards once more, from the 600,000 4G subscribers it is now expecting to have on its books by the end of the year, which is itself up from a previous 400,000 target.


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Google gets privacy lesson from EU data protection authorities | Loek Essers | ComputerWorld.com

Google gets privacy lesson from EU data protection authorities | Loek Essers | ComputerWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

European Union privacy regulators want Google to make its privacy policies easier to find and understand, with exhaustive lists of what data it holds and processes, in order to comply with EU law, they told the company this week.

Google received the package of recommendations from the Article 29 Working Party (WP29), an umbrella group for European data protection authorities. While WP29 has no power to sanction the company, its members have imposed fines in a number of cases following Google's 2012 changes to its privacy policy, which several national privacy regulators found breached EU rules.

WP29's recommendations are common guidelines for complying with national privacy laws, it said in a letter to Google published Thursday.

The group could extend the guidelines to apply to the whole industry at a later date, it said.

The guidelines are just one way the company could comply with the law, and are not compulsory, but neither do they pre-empt enforcement actions by national authorities, the WP29 said, adding that it remains open to discussing any other measures that Google would propose to address the legal requirements.

Google plans to do just that. "We've worked with the different data protection authorities across Europe to explain our privacy policy changes. We're always open to their feedback and look forward to further discussing their suggestions in detail," a Google spokesman said in an email.


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Hands-Free, Mind-Free: What We Lose Through Automation | All Tech Considered | NPR.org

Hands-Free, Mind-Free: What We Lose Through Automation | All Tech Considered | NPR.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Nicholas Carr's books are the nagging, tech-wary conscience of the digital age. In The Shallows, he warned that surfing the Internet is destroying our attention span.


Now in his new book, The Glass Cage, Carr warns us that computers are making more and more decisions for us, and we risk forgetting how to make those decisions ourselves.


He writes a lot about cars. Cars that do many things for us automatically, things we used to do and had to think about. And cars of the future that may take over the driving from us altogether.


NPR's Robert Siegel picked him up in a state-of-the-art driving machine, a 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 4Matic.


The car is Mercedes' top of the line, highest-tech model you can drive. It parks itself. It controls the windshield wipers. And it automatically dims the high beams when oncoming cars approach.


It's even equipped with a special camera and radar that allows for semi-autonomous driving, says Michael Minielly of Mercedes-Benz USA, who was also along for the ride.


As Siegel was driving in rush-hour traffic to Carr's hotel in Washington, D.C., this system kept him in his lane — had he strayed, it would have taken over the steering — and it maintained his distance from a taxi that cut in front.

"The car ahead of me is moving, so the car is following it. I'm not accelerating right now," Siegel says.

"That's correct. And you're not braking," Minielly adds.

"I'm not braking. And now the car ahead of me is slowing down so this car is slowing down," Siegel says.

No hands, no feet. The Mercedes was driving itself.

For Carr, features like automatic navigation demonstrate how technology gives to human beings, while also taking away.


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Satellite images show Aral Sea basin 'completely dried' | Enjoli Liston | The Guardian

Satellite images show Aral Sea basin 'completely dried' | Enjoli Liston | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A large section of the Aral Sea has completely dried up for the first time in modern history, according to Nasa.

Images from the US space agency’s Terra satellite released last week show that the eastern basin of the Central Asian inland sea – which stretched across Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and was once the fourth largest in the world – was totally parched in August. Images taken in 2000 show an extensive body of water covering the same area.

“This is the first time the eastern basin has completely dried in modern times,” Philip Micklin, a geographer emeritus from Western Michigan University told Nasa. “And it is likely the first time it has completely dried in 600 years, since Medieval desiccation associated with diversion of Amu Darya to the Caspian Sea.”

In the 1950s, two of the region’s major rivers – the Amu Darya and and the Syr Darya – were diverted by the Soviet government to provide irrigation for cotton production in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, starving the Aral. It has been diminishing ever since, with the sea level dropping 16 metres between 1960 and 1996, according to the World Bank. Water levels are believed to be down to less than 10 per cent of what they were five decades ago.

A lack of rain and snow on the Pamir Mountains has contributed to the particularly low water levels this summer, said Micklin.


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