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1,343 Russian towns still lack communications services | TeleGeography.com

According to a study completed by the Ministry of Communications (MinSvyaz), 1,343 Russian localities – each with a population between 500 and 10,000 – still lack access to basic internet and mobile services.


Online news outlet ComNews.ru notes that most of the areas in question are situated in Stavropol Krai, the Republic of Bashkortostan, Novosibirsk Oblast, the Republic of Dagestan and the Karachay–Cherkess Republic.


At the end of 2013, there were said to be more than 17,500 recognised localities in Russia, meaning that approximately 7.7% of the population still lack access to communication services.

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China says its new cybersurveillance proposal mimics U.S. practices | Michael Kan | ComputerWorld.com

China says its new cybersurveillance proposal mimics U.S. practices | Michael Kan | ComputerWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

China is scratching its head over why the U.S. is opposing a new anti-terror law relating to cybersurveillance when the U.S. and other countries have also requested that tech companies hand over data to help stop terrorists.

On Wednesday, China's parliamentary spokeswoman tried to play down the impact the proposed legislation might have on foreign tech businesses, in the face of U.S. fears it would require companies to hand over sensitive data to the country's government.

The anti-terror law is still under review, but if passed, it would require tech companies to give encryption keys to the authorities, and create "back doors" into their systems for government surveillance access.

On Monday, President Barack Obama said in an interview with Reuters that he's urged the country to change the legislation, and even raised the matter directly with China's president.

"We have made it very clear to them that this is something they are going to have to change if they are to do business with the United States," Obama said.

But on Wednesday, Fu Ying, the spokeswoman of China's National People's Congress, said that the U.S. probably misunderstands the proposed regulations.


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Internet.org hopes to reach 100 countries in a year, up from six now | Matt Hamblen | ComputerWorld.com

Internet.org hopes to reach 100 countries in a year, up from six now | Matt Hamblen | ComputerWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Internet.org, which is already offering free Internet service in six countries, has ambitious plans to connect to 100 countries in the next year.

"We like big, ambitious goals at Facebook," said Chris Daniels, head of Internet.org in a discussion with several reporters at Mobile World Congress (MWC).

Facebook and several partners founded Internet.org two years ago; it is already serving 7 million customers in Columbia, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, India and Zambia. Many of those who were originally connected for free are now paying some fee for more advanced data services.

Daniels, a vice president at Facebook in charge of Internet.org, said the conversion of free Internet users to paying customers is critical to the carriers who provide the Internet infrastructure that makes the service possible.

He sounded the same refrain that Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg offered on Monday in a keynote presentation at MWC with three onstage carriers, including Airtel Africa, which has offered Internet.org in Ghana, Kenya and Zambia. Millicom, another partner, saw a 30% increase in data users when free data data was launched in Paraguay.

While the goal of 100 countries in a year is ambitious, Daniels said it is achievable, partly because Internet.org has figured out how to work with carriers to offer online services for free that don't cannibalize the paid services that are the lifeblood of many carriers.


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Cutting the final cord: How wireless power and wireless charging works | Christopher Null | NetworkWorld.com

Cutting the final cord: How wireless power and wireless charging works | Christopher Null | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In the 1890s, Nikola Tesla captured the imagination of the world with his invention of the Tesla coil, a device that could transmit electricity through the air, no wires required. More than 100 years later, the world has responded by adapting this breakthrough technology… mainly to recharge their electric toothbrushes.

But things are changing rapidly in the world of wireless power, with some new ideas coming to the forefront in the last few years. As more and more gadget makers get hip to the idea of a world without power bricks, this is a technology category that’s about to explode.

How will your phone, your lights, and even your electric car someday be powered without a wire? Here’s a primer on how wireless power works.


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A Major Surge in Atmospheric Warming Is Probably Coming in the Next Five Years | Nafeez Ahmed | Motherboard.VICE.com

A Major Surge in Atmospheric Warming Is Probably Coming in the Next Five Years | Nafeez Ahmed | Motherboard.VICE.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Forget the so-called ‘pause’ in global warming—new research says we might be in for an era of deeply accelerated heating.

While the rate of atmospheric warming in recent years has, indeed, slowed due to various natural weather cycles—hence the skeptics’ droning on about “pauses”—global warming, as a whole, has not stopped. Far from it. It’s actually sped up, dramatically, as excess heat has absorbed into the oceans. We’ve only begun to realize the extent of this phenomenon in recent years, after scientists developed new technologies capable of measuring ocean temperatures with a depth and precision that was previously lacking.

In 2011, a paper in Geophysical Research Letters tallied up the total warming data from land, air, ice, and the oceans. In 2012, the lead author of that study, oceanographer John Church, updated his research. What Church found was shocking: in recent decades, climate change has been adding on average around 125 trillion Joules of heat energy to the oceans per second.

How to convey this extraordinary fact?


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Three facts you should know about the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and exports | Anthony Swift's Blog | NRDC.org

Three facts you should know about the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and exports | Anthony Swift's Blog | NRDC.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

When he vetoed legislation meant to force approval of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline last week, President Obama noted that the project is designed largely as a way to route Canadian tar sands to the global export market.

Sure enough, the Gulf Coast refineries the pipeline would serve already export the majority of the fuel they produce, leading a four fold increase in U.S. petroleum exports overall in just the past decade. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of barrels of unrefined tar sands are being exported for Gulf Coast ports daily—a figure that many energy experts expect to increase dramatically should Keystone XL be permitted.

The Washington Post Factchecker responded with outdated and demonstrably incorrect information, relying on an industry report we've debunked and dated State Department assumptions that have since proven wrong.

The President is on solid ground. The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is an export pipeline through the United States, designed to increase the tar sands industry's access to the international market.

Here's what the President said:


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A billion things are already on the IoT: Verizon | Richard Chirgwin | The Register

A billion things are already on the IoT: Verizon | Richard Chirgwin | The Register | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Verizon reckons the Internet of Things is no longer a “nascent” market, reporting that there are already more than a billion devices out there running business-to-business IoT operations.

In its “state of the market” report (free with registration) covering the IoT in 2015, the company predicts that the B2B IoT space will pass 5 billion devices by 2020.

Among the carrier's enterprise customers, manufacturing leads the way, with a more than four-fold increase in M2M connections on Verizon's network in 2013-2014. Finance (up 128 per cent) and media/entertainment (120 per cent) were also in the vanguard, while laggards were energy and utilities (49 per cent up), “smart cities” (46 per cent) and healthcare (40 per cent).

To pick an example, it's perhaps understandable that the energy sector is conservative, given the sensitivity of its control networks and the persistent vulnerability of SCADA systems. The main traffic driver, it appears, is various government initiatives to encourage or mandate smart meter rollouts.

Interestingly, Verizon places a strong bet for the growth of renewables in the US, saying that by 2025 more than 10 per cent of electricity in that country will be micro-generated by consumers, creating a new IoT traffic source in its network.


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MA: Cape Wind vows to continue work on project | Laura Crimaldi | The Boston Globe

MA: Cape Wind vows to continue work on project | Laura Crimaldi | The Boston Globe | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Cape Wind, whose plans to build the nation’s first offshore wind farm were thrown into upheaval in January when two utilities terminated contracts to buy the project’s power, is not throwing in the towel, the company’s chief executive said Saturday.

In his first extensive comments to the media since the contracts were canceled, Cape Wind president Jim Gordon vowed to press ahead with the $2.5 billion project slated for Nantucket Sound and restore its agreements with National Grid and Eversource Energy, formerly known as Northeast Utilities.

“We will be contacting them soon to talk with them and see if we can amicably resolve the situation so that this important clean energy project that has been under development for the last 14 years can be built,” Gordon said in an interview.

He spoke at a rally on Boston Common attended by a couple of hundred people and organized by Better Future Project in Cambridge, which advocates for clean energy. Craig S. Altemose, the organization’s executive director, said more than 95,000 people have signed a petition asking Marcy Reed, president of National Grid in Massachusetts, to reconsider its agreement with Cape Wind.

“We are not giving up,” Gordon told the crowd, drawing cheers. “We have just begun to fight.”

The utility companies have said they terminated their contracts because Cape Wind failed to meet a Dec. 31 deadline to obtain financing, start construction, or put up financial collateral to extend the agreements.

In letters dated Dec. 31 to both utilities and state regulators, Gordon asked National Grid and Northeast Utilities, as it was known then, to put off terminating the contracts, citing “extended, unprecedented, and relentless litigation.”

Cape Wind has said the lawsuits triggered a clause in the agreement known as force majeure, which extended deadlines for the project. As a result, the utilities improperly terminated and breached the contracts, Gordon said.


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Governor Christie Settles $9 Billion NJ Pollution Case Against Exxon for $250 Million | DailyKos.com

Governor Christie Settles $9 Billion NJ Pollution Case Against Exxon for $250 Million | DailyKos.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

I just caught this on Maddow and found a late-breaking article in The New York Times:

A long-fought legal battle to recover $8.9 billion in damages from Exxon Mobil Corporation for the contamination and loss of use of more than 1,500 acres of wetlands, marshes, meadows and waters in northern New Jersey has been quietly settled by the state for around $250 million.

The lawsuits, filed by the State Department of Environmental Protection in 2004, had been litigated by the administrations of four New Jersey governors, finally advancing last year to trial. By then, Exxon’s liability was no longer in dispute; the only issue was how much it would pay in damages....

Exxon did contribute $500,000 to the Republican Governors Association in May 2014, when Mr. Christie was serving a one-year term as its chairman; the company has contributed annually to the group since at least 2008, records show....

A spokesman for Mr. Christie referred questions about the settlement to the attorney general’s office. A spokesman for the acting attorney general, John J. Hoffman, said on Thursday that the office had no comment, as was its practice with pending litigation. Exxon also declined to comment on the settlement.

http://www.nytimes.com/...


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California drought: Water shortages a near certainty for this summer as feds announce low deliveries. | Paul Rogers | San Jose Mercury News

California drought: Water shortages a near certainty for this summer as feds announce low deliveries. | Paul Rogers | San Jose Mercury News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In a clear indicator that California is descending into a fourth year of drought, the federal government on Friday announced that the Central Valley Project -- California's largest water delivery system -- will provide no water again this year to most Central Valley farmers and only 25 percent of the contracted amount to urban areas such as Santa Clara, Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

The announcement from the Bureau of Reclamation means that farmers in California's main agricultural region will fallow hundreds of thousands of acres, and heavily pump already depleted wells, perhaps faster than last year.

It also increases the likelihood of stricter conservation rules -- including fines for excessive water use -- this summer for millions of residents who receive water from the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the East Bay Municipal Utility District and the Contra Costa Water District, all of whom draw a portion of their supply from the Central Valley Project.


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For a speed boost, Alcatel-Lucent says use both cell and Wi-Fi | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com

For a speed boost, Alcatel-Lucent says use both cell and Wi-Fi | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

If you have both cellular and Wi-Fi, why not use both? At Mobile World Congress, Alcatel-Lucent is demonstrating a way to do that as part of the same network.

Cellular and Wi-Fi are rubbing shoulders more than ever, even if that can cause friction in some cases. It’s all part of the quest for more mobile capacity for applications like video streaming. Several ways of using them together are on show at MWC.

Like other vendors, Alcatel is pursuing LTE-U, which lets an LTE network use the unlicensed spectrum that powers Wi-Fi. But the French-American company is also demonstrating a technique it calls Wi-Fi boost, where users can upload data to the Internet over cellular and download it using Wi-Fi. The company plans trials of Wi-Fi boost in the second quarter of this year and will start selling it in the second half.

The technology doesn’t make the networks swap spectrum and doesn’t require new cells, access points or mobile devices. It’s all done in software, both in devices and on the back end of the carrier’s network.

Wi-Fi boost is designed for locations where there’s both Wi-Fi and cellular service, such as in homes, enterprises and public hotspots. It can boost download speed by using Wi-Fi’s fatter spectrum band, and because Wi-Fi doesn’t have to handle both download and upload traffic on the same frequencies, it can actually improve performance in both directions, said Mike Schabel, general manager and vice president of small cells at Alcatel-Lucent.

Users could get up to a 70 percent boost on downloads and an order of magnitude increase in upload capacity, the company says. A later version would allow the two networks to combine their download signals, too, leading to an even bigger boost.

To make Wi-Fi boost happen, a mobile operator would update the software that controls its network with the new version that can split up traffic between Wi-Fi and cellular. The capability would also require an OS update for subscribers’ devices. Wi-Fi boost complies with current standards, Schabel said.


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Researchers uncover signs of Superfish-style attacks | Gregg Keizer | CSO Online

Researchers uncover signs of Superfish-style attacks | Gregg Keizer | CSO Online | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Researchers at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) yesterday said that they had found evidence that implies attackers have exploited a security vulnerability in the Superfish adware and a slew of other programs.

Superfish, a company that markets a visual search product, made the news last week when Lenovo was found to have pre-loaded the program on its consumer-grade PCs during a four-month span late last year. Lenovo has acknowledged that Superfish poses a security threat to customers, and has released a tool to eradicate the software.

Microsoft, McAfee -- both Lenovo partners -- and Symantec have also issued anti-malware updates that scrub Superfish from PCs.

But the problem extends beyond Superfish, security experts have discovered. Other programs also rely on the same code library -- one created by Israeli company Komodia -- to circumvent Web encryption with a proxy.

Because of the way Komodia's proxy works, the security implications are much more dire than initially thought, when researchers focused only on the weak password used by Superfish's self-signed certificate. The proxy does not properly validate certificates, letting attackers create totally bogus certificates of their own to mimic legitimate ones used by websites, including those of banks' online access.

By hijacking a Web session -- the most common way would be using a "man-in-the-middle" (MITM) attack over a public, insecure Wi-Fi network -- hackers could redirect traffic to their own fake websites ... and the victim's browser would put up neither a warning nor a fuss.


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What the extreme eastern U.S. cold snap looks like on a world map | Andrew Freedman | Mashable.com

What the extreme eastern U.S. cold snap looks like on a world map | Andrew Freedman | Mashable.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The following chart, from the "climate reanalyzer" tool out of the University of Maine, shows forecast temperature departures from average on Friday. The eastern U.S., as well as parts of Canada, sticks out for having the most unusually cold conditions on the planet on Friday.

In fact, much of the rest of North America — including the western U.S., northwest Canada and Alaska — along with most areas of the world, are milder than average. It's as if the North Pole temporarily relocated to Boston, while leaving the door open for the Southern Hemisphere's summer to sneak in and evaporate California's snow pack, while also setting high temperature records all the way into inland Alaska.

During just the past seven days, nearly 1,300 cold temperature records have been set or tied across the lower 48 states, most of them east of the Rocky Mountains.


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Proposed Texas Bills Ban Sustainability Program, Based On A Glenn Beck Conspiracy Theory | Emily Atkin | ThinkProgress.org

Proposed Texas Bills Ban Sustainability Program, Based On A Glenn Beck Conspiracy Theory | Emily Atkin | ThinkProgress.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Two Texas lawmakers have proposed a pair of bills that would prevent the state from funding programs which attempt to implement the ideas of Agenda 21, a non-binding and voluntary United Nations plan for sustainable development signed by the United States and 178 other governments in 1992.

According to the Texas Tribune, the bills proposed by Republican state lawmakers Rep. Molly White and Sen. Bob Hall would prohibit funds from states, counties, and public universities from going to organizations “accredited by the United Nations to implement a policy that originated in the Agenda 21 plan.” The Agenda 21 plan — signed by President George H. W. Bush — includes recommendations to conserve public lands, rein in air pollution, build more sustainable cities, combat poverty, and strengthen the voices of women, indigenous groups, and farmers.

Because all those recommendations come in the form of a voluntary and non-binding resolution, they might seem pretty harmless. But according to a growing group of mostly conservative and Tea Party-affiliated people across the country, Agenda 21 is just the opposite. To this growing group, Agenda 21 represents a “dangerous threat to American sovereignty” dictated by the United Nations — an attempt to get Americans to lock away usable land that could be developed and compact people into cramped cities. This idea was popularized by Glenn Beck, who wrote a book about the plan in 2012.


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As Oil Prices Collapse, North Dakota Considers Weakening Standards on Radioactive Drilling Waste | Sharon Kelly | DeSmog Blog

As Oil Prices Collapse, North Dakota Considers Weakening Standards on Radioactive Drilling Waste | Sharon Kelly | DeSmog Blog | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

As the collapse of oil prices threatens North Dakota's shale drilling rush, state regulators are considering a move they say could save the oil industry millions of dollars: weakening the state's laws on disposing of radioactive waste.

The move has been the subject of an intensive lobbying effort by drillers, who produce up to 75 tons per day of waste currently considered too hazardous to dispose of in the state.

For every truckload of that waste, drillers could save at least $10,000 in hauling costs, they argue. State regulators calculate that by raising the radioactive waste threshold ten-fold, the industry would shave off roughly $120 million in costs per year.

But many who live in the area say they fear the long-term consequences of loosened disposal rules combined with the state's poor track record on preventing illegal dumping.

“We don't want to have when this oil and coal is gone, to be nothing left here, a wasteland, and I'm afraid that's what might happen,” farmer Gene Wirtz of Underwood, ND told KNX News, a local TV station. “Any amount of radiation beyond what you're already getting is not a good thing.”

Environmental groups have also objected that the rule change would put private companies' profits before public health.

“The only reason we're doing this today is to cut the oil industry's costs,” Darrell Dorgan, spokesman for the North Dakota Energy Industry Waste Coalition, which opposes the move, told Reuters.

There is no question that the industry is under severe financial pressure. The same barrel of Bakken crude oil that sold for $136.29 in July 2008 was priced at $34.50 this month, putting drillers, many of whom carry high levels of debt, into a financial bind.

To make debt payments, companies need to drill and frack new wells, since shale wells deliver much of their oil in a fast burst immediately following drilling, oil industry analysts say. With prices well below the breakeven point for many operators in the state's shale field, the industry's desire to cut costs is intense.

State regulators across the U.S. are feeling the pain as well, concerned about lower revenue not only from extraction taxes, but also lost jobs and plunging property values. Although North Dakota officials predict relatively minor harm to the state's general fund, planned infrastructure improvements and road repairs might be put on hold, The New York Times reported in December.

But along with revenue from shale oil and gas, the drilling rush has brought an unprecedented amount of low-level radioactive waste to the US, fueling debates in many states about how to handle the waste in the absence of federal rules.


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Silent rooftop wind turbines could generate half of a household's energy needs | Megan Treacy | TreeHugger.com

Silent rooftop wind turbines could generate half of a household's energy needs | Megan Treacy | TreeHugger.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Small wind turbines scaled to the right size for residential and urban areas have so far lived in the shadows of their larger wind-farm-sized counterparts. The power output has been too low for a reasonable return on investment through energy savings and the noise they produce is louder than most homeowners can deal with.

A Dutch renewable energy start-up called The Archimedes is working to solve both of those problems in a new class of small-scale wind turbine -- one that is almost silent and is far more efficient at converting wind into energy. The company states that the Liam F1 turbine could generate 1,500 kWh of energy per year at wind speeds of 5m/s, enough to cover half of an average household's energy use.

When used in combination with rooftop solar panels, a house could run off grid. "When there is wind you use the energy produced by the wind turbine; when the sun is shining you use the solar cells to produce the energy," The Archimedes CEO Richard Ruijtenbeek said.

The Liam's blades are shaped like a Nautilus shell. The design allows it to point into the wind to capture the most amount of energy, while also producing very little sound. The inventor of the turbine Marinus Mieremet says that the power output is 80 percent of the theoretical maximum energy that could be harnessed from the wind.


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Haverhill, MA: 16-acre solar farm proposed for city | Mike LaBella | Eagle Tribune

The owner of more than 100 acres of agricultural land on upper Hilldale Avenue near the Atkinson line wants to turn a 16-acre section of the property into a solar farm.

This would be the second solar farm in Haverhill. The first was created in 2011 just outside Lafayette Square and also on Hilldale Avenue. Officials said it is one of the largest solar farms in the state.

If the plan for the second farm goes through, the city stands to benefit from more than $18,000 in back taxes. In addition, the 16 acres will become taxable at the market assessment and at the commercial tax rate, while the company that owns the solar panels will be taxed on the panels as the property of a business.

City Assessor Steve Gullo said the owner of the upper Hilldale Avenue land wants to remove the 16 acres from a Chapter 61A agricultural/horticultural land category for the purpose of leasing it to a solar farm company.

Gullo said this will result in a rollback tax plus interest due to the city of about $18,300.

The remaining 93.4 acres will still be farm land subject to Chapter 61A, Gullo said.

The city has the right of first refusal to buy the land during this change in tax classification, but Mayor James Fiorentini said he has no interest in purchasing the property. He will ask the City Council to affirm his decision so the land can be converted to non-agricultural use.

According to the city assessor's office, the property is owned by Dixieland LLC, with Rose M. Jackson of Wilmington as trustee.

City officials said that since this is private property, the city would benefit from the solar farm only through property taxes and eventual taxes on the solar panels, but not on any electricity that is generated.


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Netflix Provides 'Un-Metered' Service in Australia & New Zealand | John Eggerton | Multichannel

Netflix Provides 'Un-Metered' Service in Australia & New Zealand |  John Eggerton | Multichannel | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Netflix has struck what it calls an "un-metering" agreement in launching the video streaming service in Australia and New Zealand.

It is launching the service through all major Australian broadband operators, the company announced Tuesday (March 3), but on iiNet, the second largest DSL provider, Netflix says customers will get all that Netflix content--House of Cards, Bloodline--" with no fear of the usage counting against home data caps, under the first un-metering agreement announced with a major broadband provider in Australia," the company said.

Netflix will launch in Australia and New Zealand March 24.


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Lockheed Martin's new Compact Fusion Reactor might change humanity forever | Umer Abrar | Physics-Astronomy.com

Lockheed Martin's new Compact Fusion Reactor might change humanity forever | Umer Abrar | Physics-Astronomy.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

This is an invention that might possibly modify the civilization as we know it: A compact fusion reactor presented by Skunk Works, the stealth experimental technology section of Lockheed Martin. It's about the size of a jet engine and it can power airplanes, most likely spaceships, and cities. Skunk Works state that it will be operational in 10 years.


Aviation Week had complete access to their stealthy workshops and spoke to Dr. Thomas McGuire, the leader of Skunk Work's Revolutionary Technology section. And ground-breaking it is, certainly: Instead of utilizing the similar strategy that everyone else is using— the Soviet-derived tokamak, a torus in which magnetic fields limit the fusion reaction with a enormous energy cost and thus tiny energy production abilities—Skunk Works' Compact Fusion Reactor has a fundamentally different methodology to anything people have tried before.


The crucial point in the Skunk Works arrangement is their tube-like design, which permits them to avoid one of the boundaries of usual fusion reactor designs, which are very restricted in the sum of plasma they can sustain, which makes them giant in size—like the gigantic International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor. According to McGuire:


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Russell R. Roberts, Jr.'s curator insight, March 5, 8:11 PM

Ground breaking research from the company that brought you stealth technology for aircraft and ships is now working on an experimental fusion reactor that could power everything from jet aircraft to cities. Scientists have worked for years to perfect this breakthrough in nuclear energy.  Apparently, the "Skunk Works" has pulled it off.  If the fusion reactor is successful in forthcoming tests, an entire new world of energy awaits us.  Maybe we won't need fossil fuels afterall.  Aloha, Russ.

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China defends cybersecurity demands, amid complaints from U.S. | Michael Kan | NetworkWorld.com

China defends cybersecurity demands, amid complaints from U.S. | Michael Kan | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

President Barack Obama isn’t happy with new rules from China that would require U.S. tech companies to abide by strict cybersecurity measures, but on Tuesday the country was quick to defend the proposed regulations.

“All countries are paying attention to and taking measures to safeguard their own information security. This is beyond reproach,” said China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying in a news briefing.

She made the statement after Obama criticized a proposed anti-terror law that he said could stifle U.S. tech business in China. The legislation would require companies to hand over encryption keys to the country’s government, and create “back doors” into their systems to give the Chinese government surveillance access.

“This is something that I’ve raised directly with President Xi,” Obama said in an interview with Reuters on Monday. “We have made it very clear to them that this is something they are going to have to change if they are to do business with the United States.”

U.S. trade groups are also against another set of proposed regulations that would require vendors selling to China’s telecommunication and banking sector to hand over sensitive intellectual property to the country’s government.

Although China hasn’t approved the proposed regulations, the country has made cybersecurity a national priority over the past year. This came after leaks from U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden alleged that the U.S. had been secretly spying on Chinese companies and schools through cyber surveillance.

On Tuesday, China signaled that there was a clear need to protect the country from cyber espionage. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua pointed to recent reports alleging that the U.S. and the U.K. had hacked into a SIM card maker for surveillance purposes as an example.


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Google sees success with balloon, airplane Internet | Martyn Williams | NetworkWorld.com

Google sees success with balloon, airplane Internet | Martyn Williams | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Google’s ambitious efforts to bring balloon and aircraft-borne connectivity to underserved areas of the globe are pushing past some key milestones and the company expects a public launch in a few years.

Both projects have captured the imagination of many for their ability to beam Internet signals from platforms high up in the sky to areas without cellular networks, but represent significant engineering challenges for Google—just the kind of thing the company likes, said Sundar Pichai, a senior vice president at Google, speaking at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The oldest and perhaps best known of the two projects, Project Loon, seeks to use balloons flying around 20 kilometers (65,000 feet) above the Earth to deliver Internet signals. The company’s first experiments used a proprietary WiFi signal but that’s since changed to LTE cellular signals.

When Google first began launching the balloons two years ago, it couldn’t manage to keep them up for more than about 5 days at a time, but now they are in the sky for as long as six months, delivering LTE signals directly to handsets on the ground. The range it can achieve with each balloon has quadrupled, he said.

“We think the model is really beginning to work,” he said.

Google is working on tests of the technology with Vodafone in New Zealand, Telstra in Australia and Telefonica in Latin America.

A newer project called Titan is at the stage Loon was a couple of years ago, said Pichai.


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Constitution Pipeline: 'The Keystone Pipeline of Natural Gas' | Ted Glick | EcoWatch

Constitution Pipeline: 'The Keystone Pipeline of Natural Gas' | Ted Glick | EcoWatch | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A popular movement is building against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), for its outrageous rubber-stamping of permits for expansion of the gas industry. Kennedy’s powerful indictment of FERC on national television last week was the latest manifestation of this hopeful, much-needed development.

Kennedy was speaking about the Constitution pipeline, one of about eight interstate pipelines originating in or going through Pennsylvania (ground zero for fracking in the Northeast) that are currently in some stage of getting approval from FERC, which interstate gas pipelines need to do. And the approval process is essentially pro-forma. In the two and a half or so years that I’ve been actively involved with this movement, I know of none proposed that have been rejected. It’s the same with proposed export terminals. At a federal Court of Appeals hearing last year in Washington, DC it was stated in open court that 95 percent or more of such proposed pipelines are approved, with no disagreement from the FERC lawyers present.

Some of the other pipelines which FERC will likely approve—barring the kind of organized people’s uprising we have seen around the Keystone XL pipeline—are: Penn East, Mariner East 2, Atlantic Sunrise, Atlantic Coast, Algonquin Incremental Market and Northeast Energy Direct.

Virtually all of these pipelines are being built, in part, to ship fracked gas from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and possibly elsewhere in the Marcellus Shale region to gas export terminals that are being built or projects that are proposed, including in Nova Scotia, off the coast of NY/NJ and Cove Point in Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay.

The leadership of FERC knows that they’ve got a problem. Here is how FERC Chair Cheryl LaFleur put it at the National Press Club on Jan. 27:


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Zero-day in Seagate NAS allows attacker to remotely get unauthorized root access | Ms. Smith | NetworkWorld.com

Zero-day in Seagate NAS allows attacker to remotely get unauthorized root access | Ms. Smith | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Thousands of Seagate Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices are defenseless against a zero-day remote code execution (RCE) vulnerability. Back in October, security researcher OJ Reeves attempted to responsibly disclose the hole in Seagate’s Business Storage 2-Bay NAS products, which ironically use a tagline of “deadlines happen. Be ready.” But Seagate still hasn’t issued a firmware fix, so Reeves has now publicly disclosed the bug.

“Products in this line that run firmware versions up to and including version 2014.00319 were found to be vulnerable to a number of issues that allow for remote code execution under the context of the root user,” Reeves wrote on Beyond Binary. “These vulnerabilities are exploitable without requiring any form of authorization on the device.” Reeves believes all previous firmware versions “are highly likely to contain the same vulnerabilities.”

“It’s basically a ‘push button, receive bacon’ situation,” Reeves told iDigitalTimes. By using Shodan, he found over 2,500 publicly exposed and vulnerable boxes on the web waiting to be popped.

Regarding responsible disclosure, Reeves said he tried starting on Oct. 7, but it was both time-consuming and unproductive; Seagate’s “front-line support team repeatedly failed to direct the query to the relevant point of contact.” He later bypassed the oxymoron "support" staff and dealt with a security contact who seemed concerned in the “early stages.” Yet Seagate still took no action and had no timeline for a fix. So today, March 1, Reeves went public with the zero-day.


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How the warming Arctic might be behind Boston's deep freeze | Peter Thompson | PRI's The World

How the warming Arctic might be behind Boston's deep freeze | Peter Thompson | PRI's The World | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The massive dumps of snow here this winter have been bad enough, but it's the cold that's really done us in, an unbroken stretch of frigid weather that’s made Massachusetts feel more like Montreal — or Anchorage.

And Rutgers University climate scientist Jennifer Francis has a counterintuitive explanation for all the cold: It's the warming Arctic.

More specifically, Francis thinks the warming Arctic is causing the jet stream to slow down and get a lot more loopy, which lets big masses of frigid air slip south.

The jet stream is that powerful, high-altitude circulation system that carries weather around the Northern Hemisphere. The main fuel behind it is the difference in temperature between the Arctic and the warmer regions to the south.

“When the Arctic is warming so fast, that means there's less fuel driving the jet stream,” Francis says. “When the jet stream has less fuel it flows more slowly, and it tends to take these big north-south dips.”

The northeastern US just happens to be in the path of one of those big dips this year, she says, “and that’s when we get our cold winters."

But she also thinks there’s a lot more going on than just a lot of cold and snow in New England. “You have to step back and look at what the jet stream is doing all around the northern hemisphere,” Francis says.


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LTE can mooch off of Wi-Fi spectrum with new Qualcomm chipset | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com

LTE can mooch off of Wi-Fi spectrum with new Qualcomm chipset | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A chipset Qualcomm is introducing at Mobile World Congress next week is likely to make mobile operators happy and some Wi-Fi fans nervous.

Amid a scramble for spectrum among cellular carriers, Qualcomm will demonstrate a chipset that lets LTE cells operate in a radio band used by Wi-Fi networks. The new silicon could double the amount of spectrum subscribers can use in certain areas, and it’s just the first in a family of chipsets that may eventually tap into five times as much.

The FSM 99xx chipset for small cells, along with a matching transceiver that will go into mobile devices, are among the first products coming for so-called Licensed Assisted Access. LAA, sometimes called LTE-Unlicensed, is one of several emerging techniques to take advantage of the large amount of spectrum available in unlicensed bands used by Wi-Fi. Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile USA and SK Telecom all have shown interest in using LAA. Combining unlicensed spectrum with traditional carrier frequencies will be a major trend on display at MWC.

The benefit of unlicensed spectrum is that it’s free for anyone to use, so carriers can tap into it without paying billions in an auction or going through a long licensing process. But that’s also what makes it risky, according to the Wi-Fi Alliance. The industry group fears that without the right safeguards, LTE networks could hurt Wi-Fi performance. It’s working with the 3GPP cellular standards group on future rules to prevent interference.

Qualcomm says its product is ready to be a good neighbor. Tests at Qualcomm showed that putting up a cellular base station built with the new chipset won’t affect nearby Wi-Fi users any more than adding another Wi-Fi access point would, said Mazen Chmaytelli, senior director of business development at Qualcomm. It plans to offer products with future safeguards once they’re finished but says they aren’t needed to keep Wi-Fi safe.


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UK: London Underground hums with better data on tracks | Joab Jackson | CIO.com

UK: London Underground hums with better data on tracks | Joab Jackson | CIO.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Most London Underground riders probably never heard of linear asset management, though they might be glad it exists, if it gets them to their destinations with fewer delays in the future.

The London Underground public rapid transit system has deployed linear asset management software from IBM to improve the efficiency of its track maintenance.

The approach could result in fewer delays and increased safety for the commuter rail system, said James Foley, director of asset management and engineering for London Underground support contractor Enterprise AMS, speaking Wednesday at the IBM InterConnect conference in Las Vegas.

Many organizations keep tabs on costly physical assets such as vehicle fleets by using asset management applications. Fewer organizations know of a subset of this practice called linear asset management, though they might benefit from the software, Foley said.

Linear assets differ from standard assets, or discrete assets, in that they are physical things that stretch over a considerable length, and change in notable ways over the course of that length. Think oil pipelines, telecommunication conduits, highways.

Railroad tracks are linear assets. A railroad line needs to be maintained to a very high standard throughout, though its components may vary over the distance, such as the quality of the roadbed, the speed limits for the trains, and the heaviness of the rails.

Such information is vital to maintaining a system as busy as the London Underground, which has 402 kilometers (250 miles) of track and is used by over 1.2 billion riders a year. Linear asset management provides all the details about the state of the track precisely at the location where the work needs to be done.

For the London Underground, track maintenance is typically confined to a four-hour window late at night when trains don’t run. The linear asset management software can provide the crew with all the specific data about a location beforehand, so they don’t waste time on site inspections to determine what materials and tools would be needed to complete the job.


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