Amazon US customers have one week to opt out of mass wireless sharing

Amazon customers have one week to opt out of a plan that would turn every Echo speaker and Ring security camera in the US into a shared wireless network, as part of the company’s plan to fix connection problems for its smart home devices.

The proposal, called Amazon Sidewalk, involves the company’s devices being used as a springboard to build city-wide “mesh networks” that help simplify the process of setting up new devices, keep them online even if they’re out of range of home wifi, and extend the range of tracking devices such as those made by Tile.

But Sidewalk has come under fire for the apparent lack of transparency with which Amazon has rolled out the feature, as well as the limited time available for users to complete the tricky process required to opt out. Other critics have expressed concerns that failing to turn the setting off could leave customers in breach of their internet service provider’s terms and conditions.

“Amazon Sidewalk is a shared network that helps devices work better,” the company said in a Q&A document for users. “In the future, Sidewalk will support a range of experiences from using Sidewalk-enabled devices, such as smart security and lighting and diagnostics for appliances and tools.”

The feature works by creating a low-bandwidth network using smart home devices such as Amazon Echoes and Ring security cameras. At its simplest, it means that a new Echo can set itself up using a neighbour’s wifi, or a security camera can continue to send motion alerts even if its connection to the internet is disrupted, by piggybacking on the connection of another camera across the street. Other devices that don’t need a high-bandwidth connection, such as smart lights, pet locators or smart locks, can use Sidewalk all the time.

But the company’s plans have caused alarm among observers. Ashkan Soltani, a former chief technology officer of the US Federal Trade Commission, told the tech site Ars Technica: “In addition to capturing everyone’s shopping habits (from amazon.com) and their internet activity (as AWS is one of the most dominant web hosting services) … now they are also effectively becoming a global ISP with a flick of a switch, all without even having to lay a single foot of fiber”. The feature may also break the terms and conditions of users’ internet connections, which do not allow such resharing, warned Lydia Leong, an analyst at Gartner.

Users can disable Sidewalk in the settings section of the Alexa or Ring apps, but have until 8 June to do so. After that, if they have taken no action, the network will be turned on and their devices will become “Sidewalk Bridges”.

Amazon is not the first company to look to create such a network. Apple has taken a similar approach with the company’s range of AirTag item trackers, which can connect to the internet through any compatible iPhone they come into contact with, not simply their owner’s. And BT, through a long-term partnership with Fon, ran a service from 2007 until 2020 that allowed broadband customers to share spare bandwidth in a public wifi network.

 Commercial space clean-up service could be ready in 2024:

A space junk removal truck could start picking up dead satellites in 2024.

Japan-headquartered space services company Astroscale, which recently launched its ELSA-d space debris removal demonstrator, might be ready to start cleaning up the mess in Earth’s orbit by 2024.

The company, which has offices in the U.K., U.S., Israel and Singapore, has signed a $3.5 million deal with would-be megaconstellation operator OneWeb to work together on advancing debris-removal technology. OneWeb currently operates over 180 satellites in a constellation meant to reach about 650 satellites, but has asked the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to approve over 6,300 satellites in its “Phase Two” strategy. OneWeb is partially owned by the British government.

Plans of companies such as OneWeb, SpaceX and Amazon to launch constellations of thousands of satellites cause serious concerns in the global space flight community as the already cluttered orbital environment is at risk of becoming overcrowded. Satellite operators already report a growing number of situations when two satellites come close to colliding. OneWeb’s cooperation with Astroscale might help attenuate some of the concerns.

“This partnership with OneWeb demonstrates their commitment to space sustainability and is the next step towards maturing our technologies to develop a full-service debris removal offering by 2024,” John Auburn, managing director of Astroscale U.K. and group chief commercial officer said in a statement.

The new service targets constellation operators and is called ELSA-M. The program would enable the removal of multiple retired satellites in a single mission, thus reducing cost for the client, the company said in the statement. The orbital junk collector would push each satellite into the atmosphere to burn up, then return for the next defunct piece.

“This funding will help us evolve key rendezvous and proximity operations technologies and capabilities beyond ELSA-d towards an end-of-life servicing offering for a range of constellation customers,” Jason Forshaw, Astroscale’s head of future business, Europe, said in the statement. “In parallel to this project, we’re developing our next generation docking plate (DP), which is fitted to clients before launch, and is designed to enable a servicer to grapple the client. We are encouraging constellation customers to fit DPs to future-proof their satellites in case of need for removal due to failure, or at end of life, or to provide future in-orbit servicing.”

Astroscale’s ELSA-d demonstration mission, currently in low Earth orbit, will carry out a series of rendezvous and close proximity debris capture and release manoeuvres this summer. The results of the test campaign will inform further work on the ELSA-M program, Astroscale said.

The funding is part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) program called Sunrise, developing flexible reprogrammable communication satellites.

Europe unveils plans to bring ‘GPS’ and Skype to the moon with satellites.

SSTL and Telespazio lead two European consortia tasked with developing concepts of a lunar navigation and telecommunication constellation. (Image credit: ESA)

The European Space Agency (ESA) has kicked off the development of a future satellite constellation that will orbit the moon and provide navigation and telecommunication services to lunar explorers.

If all goes according to plan, the new system could be in place in the late 2020s, only a few years after the expected landing of NASA’s crewed Artemis 3 mission near the lunar south pole.

ESA believes that Earth’s celestial companion is set to become a busy destination in the coming years, with commercial companies and nations from across the world all wanting a slice of the “eighth continent.” The new constellation, called Moonlight, will make it easier and cheaper for a fledgling lunar economy to blossom, ESA officials suggested in a news conference on Thursday (May 20).

“Having a navigation and telecommunication network to relay what we learn on the moon back to Earth will be key for sustainability of future missions,” Elodie Viau, ESA’s director of telecommunications and integrated applications, said in the news conference. “You can imagine astronomers setting up observatories on the far side of the moon. And as we have all now become accustomed to virtual meetings, who knows? We could be doing Skype on the moon.”

He wasn’t just interested in Edison’s medicine.


Nikola Tesla invention from 100 years ago suddenly makes more sense today
The eccentric inventor is known for dabbling with electricity, but his Tesla valve is impressing scientists anew.

Inventor Nikola Tesla has long been recognized for a body of work that ranges from brilliant (AC electricity) to baffling (an “earthquake machine“?). Scientists have studied one of his lesser-known inventions  in new detail, and they think they may have found new uses for it in the modern world.

Tesla’s macrofluidic valve — often just called the Tesla valve — is a sort of odd-shaped conduit for fluids in which a main channel is interspersed with a series of diverting teardrop-shaped loops. The loops are oriented in such a way that fluids easily flow through in one direction, but when reversed, the flow is almost totally blocked.

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And, oh are they yummy. Those farm raised domestic versions pale in comparison.


Hunting: All things considered, the wild turkey truly is a magnificent bird
Calling wild turkeys dull-witted, unattractive or just a simple nuisance is underestimating a nuanced and somewhat complicated creature.

Appearances can be sometimes be deceiving. Scratching under a backyard bird feeder or dusting in a dirt driveway, the wild turkey may seem like little more than a very overgrown chicken. Pecking at his reflection in your chrome bumper or menacing pets and children, Old Tom might make you consider him dull-witted and a nuisance. Before you judge this book by its feathery cover, however, it would be wise to know a little more about this remarkable bird.

Its nearly naked head and neck might seem some unfortunate joke played by its designers, especially when compared to the resplendent red and green of the gaudy ring-necked pheasant, or even the subtle camouflage and crest of the ruffed grouse. Rather than a glamorous game bird, it more closely resembles the carrion-eating vulture that corrupted its name.

However, everything in nature has a purpose. When in relaxed mode, the tom’s head and face are the pale blue-gray of an almost clear sky above a thin veil of overcast, and its neck an earthy brick red. When excited by a rival or potential mate, the male turkey shows his colors, pumping blood to the exposed flesh until its head becomes a bright white, its face a deep azure and its neck a rich crimson. Perhaps that is why Ben Franklin allegedly petitioned to make the wild turkey our national bird.

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And literally on the other side of the world.


Maori Party fears over new gun laws

There are fears that proposed new gun laws aiming to curb gang violence will affect Māori with only loose connections to gangs.

Offences that could lead to a firearms prohibition order included participating in an organised crime group or gang, and serious firearms or violence offences.

The Green Party welcomed the legislation in general but warns police may seek bans for people that they simply consider gang associates.

Police Minister Poto Williams says she hadn’t received advice on what a firearms prohibition order would specifically mean for Māori.

“We haven’t had specific information with that regard. But what we’re dealing with are the most serious offenders … who would do us harm,” Williams says.

But a public consultation document says Māori would likely be over-represented in those subjected to firearms prohibition orders.

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In the emptiness of space, Voyager I detects plasma ‘hum’

ITHACA, N.Y. – Voyager 1 – one of two sibling NASA spacecraft launched 44 years ago and now the most distant human-made object in space – still works and zooms toward infinity.

The craft has long since zipped past the edge of the solar system through the heliopause – the solar system’s border with interstellar space – into the interstellar medium. Now, its instruments have detected the constant drone of interstellar gas (plasma waves), according to Cornell University-led research published in Nature Astronomy.

Examining data slowly sent back from more than 14 billion miles away, Stella Koch Ocker, a Cornell doctoral student in astronomy, has uncovered the emission. “It’s very faint and monotone, because it is in a narrow frequency bandwidth,” Ocker said. “We’re detecting the faint, persistent hum of interstellar gas.”

This work allows scientists to understand how the interstellar medium interacts with the solar wind, Ocker said, and how the protective bubble of the solar system’s heliosphere is shaped and modified by the interstellar environment.

Launched in September 1977, the Voyager 1 spacecraft flew by Jupiter in 1979 and then Saturn in late 1980. Travelling at about 38,000 mph, Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause in August 2012.

After entering interstellar space, the spacecraft’s Plasma Wave System detected perturbations in the gas. But, in between those eruptions – caused by our own roiling sun – researchers have uncovered a steady, persistent signature produced by the tenuous near-vacuum of space.

“The interstellar medium is like a quiet or gentle rain,” said senior author James Cordes, the George Feldstein Professor of Astronomy. “In the case of a solar outburst, it’s like detecting a lightning burst in a thunderstorm and then it’s back to a gentle rain.”

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And it’s only Thursday. Just think about ‘Florida Man Friday‘………

Florida driver blasts through a gate and successfully jumps an opening drawbridge.

Stupid? Yes. Dangerous? Yes.
Impressive? Channel your inner Randy Savage

Florida Man was ON THE GAS and his windshield was intact as he approached the gate arm

He blasted through the gate without a care in the world

“The drawbridge was not yet completely open,” you say?

True.

But HE GOT AIR. All four tires left the pavement:

And then he’s off into the sunset:

What was the source of his dogged determination to Dukes of Hazzard this drawbridge?

We’ll never know. But he set his mind to it and he did it.

Nuro’s self-driving robot will deliver Domino’s pizza orders to customers in Houston.

Domino’s Pizza will start delivering pizzas via Nuro driverless cars in Houston this week as part of a pilot program, the company announced Monday. The company says “select customers” in Houston who make a prepaid delivery order from its store in the Woodland Heights neighborhood during certain dates and times can have their pizza brought to them by a Nuro R2 robot.

Here’s how the pizza deliveries will work: a customer places and pays for an order online from the Woodland Heights store and opts in to have the order brought by the R2. The customer receives a unique PIN via text alert along with updates on the vehicle’s location. When the robot car arrives, the customer enters the PIN on its touch screen, which opens the R2’s doors. Pizza ensues.

A customer retrieves her pizzas from Nuro’s R2 delivery robot.
 Image: Domino’s

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David Hogg Quits Good Pillow Project Designed to Rival Mike Lindell’s MyPillow

Gun control advocate David Hogg announced that he is resigning from Good Pillow in order to focus on activism and his college studies.

In a series of tweets Hogg, 20, said he had stepped away from the pillow company that he planned to be “progressive competition” for MyPillow CEO and vocal conspiracy theorist, Mike Lindell.

On Saturday, Hogg thanked his Good Pillow partner William LeGate and said he would focus on his college studies and gun control activism.

He said: “Effective immediately, I have resigned and released all shares, any ownership and any control of Good Pillow LLC. I want to thank his partnership and wish him absolutely nothing but success with the future of Good Pillow.”

Hogg continued: “Over the next several months, I will be taking some time to focus on my studies in college and advance the gun violence prevention movement with March for Our Lives and personally.”

Effective immediately, I have resigned and released all shares, any ownership and any control of Good Pillow LLC. I want to thank Will for his partnership and wish him absolutely nothing but success with the future of Good Pillow.

The Harvard University student added he could not “give 100% to being a full time co-founder” and that he would “allow William to bring our vision to life without me.”

LeGate replied to Hogg’s multi-tweet statement: “It has been a pleasure working with you, David.

“I cannot wait to see what you do in the future and we will be sending you pillows from the first batch.”

No Good Pillow products have yet been sold by the new company. Pre-sales will be processed “very soon” with shipping “currently scheduled” to start in July, according to LeGate.

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More Guns, Less… Suicides? In 2020, That Was The Case

Is there nothing sacred anymore?

Pepsi and Peeps Have Joined Forces to Create Marshmallow Soda

PEPSI x PEEPS Kit Packaging

Spring is in the air and Easter is just a week and a half away, which means we are well past due for an insane new Peeps flavor—but this year, they’re making a splash in soda form.

In the most unlikely collaboration since Ed Sheeran and Andrea Bocelli, Peeps has partnered with Pepsi to create Marshmallow Cola, which comes in a three-pack of cute little 7.5-oz. cans. Sadly, these won’t be available on grocery store shelves this year, but fans can enter the sweepstakes to win some by hashtagging “#HangingWithMyPEEPS” on their social media photos.

More specifically, the prompt tells you to share photos enjoying your favorite springtime activities—”in a safe, socially distant manner,” of course.

The cans come in blue, pink, and yellow, although there is no difference in flavor. We got a first taste of the drink and can confirm that it does, in fact, taste like marshmallows—with a flavor that’s vaguely reminiscent of Lucky Charms.

 

The originals were 90% silver, the standard ‘coin’ silver. By law these have to be a minimum of 90% too, but reports are that the mint will use the .999% blanks that are used today for the Silver Eagle bullion coins.


2021 Morgan and Peace Silver Dollar Designs and Mint Marks

The United State Mint unveiled designs for the 2021 Morgan and Peace centennial silver dollars. They also revealed where they will be made and how many mint and privy marks will be used

2021 Morgan Silver Dollar Designs

Authorized under Public Law 116-286, the 1921 Silver Dollar Coin Anniversary Act, the U.S. Mint will strike the silver dollars in recognition of the 100th anniversary in 2021 of the production transition from Morgan dollars to Peace dollars.

2021 Peace Silver Dollar Designs

Bigfoot bounty grows to more than $2 million

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma’s bounty on Bigfoot has grown to nearly $2.1 million mere weeks after a state lawmaker proposed a controversial bill to allow capturing of the mythical creature.

State Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane, said it doesn’t matter that his legislative measure never made it out of committee. It did exactly what he intended it to do — promote interest and tourism in his heavily wooded district in Southeast Oklahoma that reportedly boasts the ninth most sightings in the world of the legendary ape-like creature.

Humphrey said he initially thought he’d have to go through the state wildlife department to issue hunting licenses for Bigfoot, but quickly discovered the state tourism department can issue tracking permits since the intent is not to kill or injure the elusive beast.

Now he’s working with state tourism officials to set up rules for Bigfoot enthusiasts who want to participate in Oklahoma’s “Sasquatch Quest.”

The No. 1 rule — Sasquatchers must capture Bigfoot unharmed and can’t injure anyone else or break any laws in the process.

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So, Daleks are taking over?


Crime-fighting robot patrols Las Vegas apartment complex


How would you like a robot warning you that you are violating a curfew regulation?

A security robot is helping to transform a noisy northeast Las Vegas Valley apartment complex into a quieter, more peaceful place to live, says a manager.

“Westy” has been patrolling the grounds at the 1,129-unit Liberty Village apartment complex, just outside the southwest corner of Nellis Air Force Base, since October. It is believed to be the first such use of a security robot at a Las Vegas apartment complex.

Officially known as a Knightscope MIN31KS, the human-sized autonomous robot offers a wide variety of security measures including four-camera video recording, facial recognition, license plate reading, verbal warnings, a telephone-like connection with human security officers and a presence that helps deter improper activity.

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Something of interest for the folks down south.


How Colombia’s drug cartels almost bought a Soviet submarine.

In 2019, footage of a U.S. Coast Guard interdiction of a homemade drug smuggling submarine took the world by storm, and for good reason. As we watched one of the baddest dudes we’re ever apt to see anywhere outside of a movie pounding on the hatch of the mostly submerged sub, many of us were shocked to learn that drug cartels actually have their own submarines.

What may surprise you more is that these amateur submarines were really a consolation prize for drug smugglers out of Colombia. Their first choice? An actual Soviet Foxtrot-class submarine. What’s even crazier, however, is that the Russians seemed to be more than happy to sell them one.

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‘Zombie’ greenhouse gas lurks in permafrost beneath the Arctic Ocean

Millions of tons of organic carbon and methane beneath the Arctic Ocean thaw out and ooze to the surface each year. And climate change could speed up this release of greenhouse gases, new research suggests.

The carbon tied up in organic matter and methane (a carbon atom bound to four hydrogen atoms) are currently trapped in subsea permafrost, which is frozen sediment that became covered by 390 feet (120 meters) of seawater toward the end of the Paleolithic ice age about 1,800 to 1,400 years ago, according to the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS). Most subsea permafrost sits on the continental shelf under the Arctic Ocean, said study author Sayedeh Sara Sayedi, a doctoral student in the department of plant and wildlife science at Brigham Young University in Salt Lake City.

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Trump signs Space Policy Directive-6 on space nuclear power and propulsion

One goal laid out in SPD-6 is the testing of a fission power system on the moon by the mid- to late 2020s.

Nuclear power will be a big part of the United States’ space exploration efforts going forward, a new policy document affirms.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday (Dec. 16) issued Space Policy Directive-6 (SPD-6), which lays out a national strategy for the responsible and effective use of space nuclear power and propulsion (SNPP) systems.

“Space nuclear power and propulsion is a fundamentally enabling technology for American deep-space missions to Mars and beyond,” Scott Pace, deputy assistant to the president and executive secretary of the National Space Council, said in an emailed statement Wednesday. “The United States intends to remain the leader among spacefaring nations, applying nuclear power technology safely, securely and sustainably in space.” Continue reading “”

Dr. Rand Paul Introduces HEMP Act to Relieve Unnecessary Constraints on Hemp Industry, Provide Transparency and Certainty

Today, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) continued his efforts to address Kentucky hemp farmers’ concerns with federal overreach and bring clarity, transparency, and certainty to regulation by introducing the Hemp Economic Mobilization Plan (HEMP) Act of 2020.

In response to concerns raised by Kentucky hemp farmers and processors, Dr. Paul’s HEMP Act would change the legal definition of hemp to raise the THC limit from 0.3% to 1%. Currently, any hemp crops testing above 0.3% have to be destroyed.

The legislation would require testing of the final hemp-derived product instead of the hemp flower or plant itself, as the 15-day window for testing the hemp flower or plant does not take potential testing backlogs, lack of personnel to collect samples, harvesting time, or environmental factors that farmers cannot control into account. Continue reading “”