How high-tech robotic surfboards could change our understanding of the Gulf Stream #SootinClaimon.Com

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How high-tech robotic surfboards could change our understanding of the Gulf Stream

Apr 14. 2021Saildrones. MUST CREDIT: Saildrone Inc.Saildrones. MUST CREDIT: Saildrone Inc.

By The Washington Post · Matthew Cappucci

The Gulf Stream, the warm water current that weaves a serpentine path from the west Atlantic to the United Kingdom, routinely brews some of the most extreme winter storms in the northern hemisphere, disrupting shipping and marine commerce while affecting weather throughout the globe.

The Gulf Stream is also an enormous absorber of carbon dioxide, trapping greenhouse gases and preventing the pace of climate change from accelerating further.

Scientists are now hoping to gain a better understanding of what makes the Gulf Stream tick by launching “saildrones” – or surfboard-like “uncrewed surface vehicles” – that will ride the waters and transmit observations for up to a year. Developed by the Saildrone company in Alameda, Calif., they are used to survey weather and ocean observations and can cover thousands of square miles with no carbon footprint.

“We had a competition where we asked what people would do if they had a Saildrone for a month,” said Anne Miglarese, Saildrone’s program executive officer for impact science. Jaime Palter, a professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, said she would “stick it in the Gulf Stream,” Miglarese recalled.

Saildrone was enthusiastic about the proposal. It loaned Palter a unit that was launched from Newport, R.I., on Jan. 30, 2019. Palter’s aim was to better understand how currents like the Gulf Stream fit into the global carbon cycle and how much of a net carbon sink, or absorber, they are. Humans routinely emit more than 35 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually, about a third of which is believed to immediately end up in the oceans.

Recent Saildrone missions in the Antarctic have shown that the ocean’s role in the carbon cycle may not be as well understood as once believed, which could result in significant changes in how scientists model and research the dynamics of climate change.

“We circumnavigated the Antarctic last year on another philanthropic mission focused on monitoring carbon,” Miglarese explained. “The scientific consensus [at the time] was that the Antarctic was a sink for carbon. Our science showed it was a source part of the year.”

According to the paper published with the data, “observing the Southern Ocean is challenging due to its size, remoteness, and harsh conditions,” a problem that is also inveterate to the North Atlantic during winter.

The challenges of collecting data from the Gulf Stream motivated Saildrone to work with partners to explore the current’s role in the sequestration and release of CO2. They’re partnering with NOAA, along with Palter, to analyze the findings once obtained.

“We need a more accurate global carbon budget, and missions like this one will support that and help test our assumptions,” Miglarese said.

With the help of a roughly $1 million investment from Google, Saildrone will be launching a half dozen of its drones to roam the North Atlantic. The company has three sizes of drones and is choosing its 23-foot Explorer model for this mission.

The drones resemble enormous surfboards with fins and have a 16-foot sail on top that is used as a mast for weather instruments, solar panels and a camera. It can travel at speeds of three knots on missions lasting up to a year at a time.

The drones are powered by sunlight and wind and wirelessly transmit compressed data back to shore. Some Saildrones are equipped to monitor populations of sharks and other fish and algae.

The design builds upon the last iteration of the Saildrone Explorer, which was used in Palter’s 2019 study. During that mission, a strong gust of wind tore the wing from the Saildrone – but that didn’t halt the project.

“The wing ripped in half, but the drone continued to operate for about 10 days,” said Miglarese. “They got more data than they’ve ever gotten before. After that mission, Richard, [an engineer], redesigned the wing. Now they are meant specifically for this work.”

The new “hurricane wings” will be added to Saildrones that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will place in the tropics during hurricane season as part of a later project.

Saildrone’s latest endeavor will investigate more than just dissolved carbon concentration. The drones will collect weather and water temperature data in a part of the Atlantic largely bereft of weather buoys. That could prove enormously beneficial in improving the accuracy of weather forecasts.

The European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts, or ECMWF, hosts the most powerful weather model in the world and is often considered the most accurate. It hopes that data provided by the Saildrones will improve forecasts made for Europe.

“We will ingest some of the data from the Saildrones, but not all,” Philip Browne, a data scientist at the ECMWF, wrote in an email. “In particular we will use the surface pressure data operationally, and that will go straight into the weather forecasts we produce.”

That could bring model improvements as soon as the data starts flowing.

Ocean current data from the Gulf Stream will be vetted and used only internally at first because scientists at the ECMWF need to make sure the data is processed and handled by computers correctly.

“The many other sensors and observation types carried by the Saildrones have different routes into the system,” Browne said. “For example, the sea surface temperature measurements will end up in our forecasts.”

He explained that sea surface data is first taken in by the United Kingdom Met Office, which produces a global sea surface temperature analysis, which is fed into the ECMWF model.

“The data should be available for all weather centres to use if they can,” Browne wrote.

In the meantime, Miglarese said she is excited for what’s ahead for Saildrone and is looking to the rollout of its biggest model yet – the Saildrone Surveyor.

“We just launched a 72-foot drone that does bathymetric measurements,” she said. Bathymetry describes the shape, depth and topographic features of the sea floor. “It’s a big vessel. It’s pushing a lot of power.”

Thai space agency counting down to satellite launch, new era #SootinClaimon.Com

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Thai space agency counting down to satellite launch, new era

Apr 14. 2021 Pakorn Apaphant Photo Credit: GISTDAPakorn Apaphant Photo Credit: GISTDA

By The Nation

Construction of a small satellite by Thai engineers under the THEOS-2 project will be completed by the end of this year, the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) said on Tuesday.

THEOS-2 is a joint project being undertaken by GISTDA and Surrey Satellite Technology of the United Kingdom.

GISTDA executive director Pakorn Apaphant said the project was more than 65 per cent complete.

He explained that THEOS-2 consists of two parts: development of geoinformatics software and the construction of two satellites.

“A large satellite is currently being assembled and tested, while a small one is currently undergoing system checks before its environment test,” he said.

“Once checks on the small satellite are complete, it will be sent to the satellite assembly, integration and testing building in Chonburi’s Sri Racha district.”

Photo Credit: GISTDA

Photo Credit: GISTDA

The joint project is also designed to give Thai engineers knowledge of space technology so Thailand can conduct space missions independently in the future, said Pakorn.

“This small satellite will be responsible for taking high-resolution pictures of the Earth’s surface, like other satellites under GISTDA,” he said.

He added that the small satellite will be sent into space next year and remain operational for at least three years.

Apple working on combined TV box, speaker to revive home efforts #SootinClaimon.Com

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https://www.nationthailand.com/edandtech/30404830

Apple working on combined TV box, speaker to revive home efforts

Apr 13. 2021An Apple TV 4K and remote control sits on display inside a store in San Francisco, California, on Sept. 22, 2017. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by David Paul MorrisAn Apple TV 4K and remote control sits on display inside a store in San Francisco, California, on Sept. 22, 2017. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by David Paul Morris

By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Mark Gurman

Apple has been a laggard in the smart-home space, but a versatile new device in early development could change that.

The company is working on a product that would combine an Apple TV set-top box with a HomePod speaker and include a camera for video conferencing through a connected TV and other smart-home functions, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters.

The device’s other capabilities would include standard Apple TV box functions like watching video and gaming plus smart speaker uses such as playing music and using Apple’s Siri digital assistant. If launched, it would represent Apple’s most ambitious smart-home hardware offering to date.

The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is also mulling the launch of a high-end speaker with a touch screen to better compete with market leaders Google and Amazon.com, the people said. Such a device would combine an iPad with a HomePod speaker and also include a camera for video chat. Apple has explored connecting the iPad to the speaker with a robotic arm that can move to follow a user around a room, similar to Amazon’s latest Echo Show gadget.

Development of both Apple products is still in the early stages, and the company could decide to launch neither or change key features. The company often works on new concepts and devices without ultimately shipping them. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

The new offerings may help revive Apple’s fortunes in the smart-home category. The company held 2% of the TV streaming device market in 2020, according to Strategy Analytics, while the HomePod has had less than 10% of the smart speaker market for most of its existence.

An Amazon.com Echo Show is displayed at CES 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Jan. 9, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Bridget Bennett.

An Amazon.com Echo Show is displayed at CES 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Jan. 9, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Bridget Bennett.

In March, Apple discontinued its high-end HomePod, while the Apple TV box hasn’t been updated for more than three years. Last year, the company launched the HomePod mini, which has fared better due to its lower price.

Apple combined its HomePod and Apple TV engineering groups in 2020 and unified the underlying software that runs on both devices. That was an early hint that Apple may eventually integrate the hardware lines.

A combined speaker and TV box isn’t a product category that Google and Amazon have seriously addressed yet, though Facebook Inc. sells a Portal video chat device that uses a TV as its display and Amazon sells the Fire TV Cube box with a small speaker. Amazon does however lead the Smart Displays category, the term for smart speakers with screens.

Amazon first popularized smart speakers with screens in 2017 with the launch of the original Echo Show. Alphabet’s Google offers 7- and 10-inch versions of its Nest Hub, which pairs the Google Assistant with a speaker and screen. Amazon is also working on a new speaker with a screen for a user’s wall that can serve as a smart home hub. In March, Bloomberg News reported that Apple was exploring new smart speakers with displays and cameras.

Apple’s HomeKit software — which lets third-party devices be controlled by iPhones, iPads and HomePods via an app or Siri — supports fewer products than rival systems from Amazon and Google. New Apple devices won’t change that alone, but could give both Apple and potential partners new reasons to invest in the larger Apple smart-home ecosystem.

Internet usage soars as pandemic compels change in lifestyle: survey #SootinClaimon.Com

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https://www.nationthailand.com/edandtech/30404784

Internet usage soars as pandemic compels change in lifestyle: survey

Apr 11. 2021

By The Nation

The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed Thais into a full digital life with internet usage rising to 11 hours and 25 minutes.

Chaichana Mitrpant, executive director of Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA), said that Thailand has been moving to a full digital era each year.

Various online activities, including online transactions, increased by leaps and bounds which created economic value and a digital society.

Thai people are now more familiar with technology and the Internet as the pandemic has driven the use of digital tools and internet, a recent survey said. This is one of the ways to prevent infection according to the principle of social spacing.

The 2020 Thailand Internet User Behaviour Survey reflected the behaviour change and future trends.

According to the latest survey in 2020, Thai people used the internet on average for 11 hours and 25 minutes a day, an increase of an hour and three minutes from 2019.

In terms of generations, Gen Y (age 20-39 years) made the most use of the internet with 12 hours and 26 minutes, followed by Gen Z (younger than 20) – 12 hours 8 minutes; Gen X (age 40-55) – 10 hours 20 minutes; and Baby Boomer (age 56-74) – 8 hours 41 minutes.

Overall, the number of internet hours used for school/work increased. This was partly due to the Covid-19 outbreak that led to closure of schools, and most offices having a work-from-home arrangement.

The most popular online activities are social media such as Facebook, Line, Instagram. They accounted for 95.3 per cent, followed by watching TV/watching clips/watching movies/listening to music online (85.0 per cent), searching for information (82.2 per cent), communicating online both phone calls and chat (77.8 per cent), email (69.0 per cent) and online shopping (67.3 per cent).

Social media that have continued to dominate the hearts of Thai people are Facebook (98.29 per cent), YouTube (97.5 per cent) and LINE (96.0 per cent), while the new platform TikTok has gained 35.8 per cent popularity.

The most popular online shopping platform is Shopee 91 per cent, followed by Lazada 72.9 per cent, Facebook Fanpage 55.1 per cent, Instagram 42.1 per cent, and Line 41.6 per cent.

The No. 1 popular TV and clip viewing platform is YouTube 99.1 per cent, Netflix 55.6 per cent, and Line TV 51.9 per cent.

NASA is preparing to fly the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars, in an otherworldly Wright brothers moment #SootinClaimon.Com

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NASA is preparing to fly the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars, in an otherworldly Wright brothers moment

Apr 11. 2021

By The Washington Post · Christian Davenport

They landed a car-size rover on Mars, and the brilliant, if cheeky, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory even snuck a coded message into the parachute used to slow it down for a soft landing that read, “Dare Mighty Things.”

Now comes what the space agency says will be a “Wright brothers” moment on Mars: the first powered flight of an aircraft on another planet.

It won’t fly far, just to the height of a basketball rim and down, a short hop that should take about 40 seconds. But the autonomous flight of a tiny helicopter called Ingenuity would mark a first in interplanetary travel, demonstrate a new technology and pave the way for scientists and explorers to more quickly traverse the surface of the Red Planet.

Originally expected to happen as early as Sunday, the flight was postponed until no earlier than Wednesday after a problem during a test of spinning the rotor blades at full power. In a statement Saturday, NASA said, “The helicopter is safe and healthy and communicated its full telemetry set to Earth.” But it is diagnosing the problem before running another test.

The flight will be a technology demonstration add-on to the main feature of the mission – the Perseverance rover, a four-wheeled vehicle designed to explore the landscape of a crater that once held water and could yield clues about the possibility of ancient life there.

The rover is outfitted with all sorts of cameras and sensors that can zoom in on rock formations and collect data about the planet’s landscape and climate. “Reading the geological history embedded in its rocks will give scientists a richer sense of what the planet was like in its distant past,” NASA said.

Perseverance carried Ingenuity with it, a tiny offspring clinging to the under-carriage of the rover during the seven-month, 300-million-mile journey, the white knuckled landing through Mars’s atmosphere and the frigid Martian nights since.

Now it’s almost ready for its first flight.

“It could be an amazing day,” Tim Canham, NASA’s Ingenuity operations lead, told reporters Friday. “We’re all nervous, but we have confidence that we put in the work and the time and we have the right people to do the job.”

Ingenuity is a sprite of a helicopter, just four-pounds, with four pointy legs, two rotor blades that whirl at blinding speed in opposite directions, a solar panel and a fuselage packed with avionics designed to help it navigate the thin Martian atmosphere – another marvel to emerge from the labs at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

It’s no easy feat, flying a helicopter on Mars. The reduced gravity – about one-third of Earth’s – will help it take off and stay aloft. But the paucity of the Martian atmosphere, just 1% of the density of Earth’s, doesn’t give the blades much to chew on as they try to gain purchase for liftoff.

“That’s the equivalent of about 100,000 feet of altitude on Earth, or three times the height of Mount Everest,” said MiMi Aung, NASA’s Ingenuity project manager. “We don’t generally fly things that high.”

Commercial airliners fly at about 35,000 feet above the Earth, she noted, adding: “There were some people who doubted we could generate enough lift to fly in that thin Martian atmosphere.”

The twin blades can spin incredibly fast, 2,400 rotations per minute, and were designed to propel the drone-like Ingenuity off the ground. “Those blades are not something off the shelf,” she said. “They are really fine-tuned to maximize the lift that we can generate in such a thin atmosphere.”

If successful, Ingenuity’s flight would come nearly 120 years after the Wright brothers’ first flight of a plane above the beach in North Carolina. Nothing like Kitty Hawk, Ingenuity’s airfield is a dusty, rock-strewn, barren strip of land that is flat enough, NASA hopes, for takeoff and landing.

Designed as a test vehicle, Ingenuity is “in the long tradition of experimental aircraft that started with the Wright brothers, who were able to bring aerial mobility as a dimension for us to be able to travel here on Earth,” NASA’s Bob Balaram, the chief engineer of the Mars helicopter project, said in a news briefing last month. “In the same way, we are hoping that Ingenuity also allows us to expand and open up aerial mobility on Mars.”

As a tribute to the Wright brothers, Ingenuity has a postage-stamp-size bit of fabric from the brothers’ aircraft attached to a cable under the solar panel.

In 1903, the Wright brothers’ first flight went about 120 feet. Ingenuity’s first flight won’t go that far. Initially it plans to lift off, rise to about 10 feet, hover for some 30 seconds and come back down.

If all goes according to plan, the helicopter could make as many as five flights, each one more ambitious than the last. The second, for example, would fly slightly higher, to 16 feet, and then horizontally for a little bit before returning to the landing site.

The Perseverance rover will assist in Ingenuity’s flight, attempting to document it and relay signals back to Earth.

Ingenuity is a side benefit to the mission, a technology demonstration that could pave the way for more aircraft on Mars in the future that “could provide a supporting role as robotic scouts, surveying terrain from above,” NASA said.

“It’s a high-risk, high-reward approach that allows us to test capabilities we can improve on later, which could also advance science on future missions,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s planetary science division.

America’s top residential solar CEO has started selling peace of mind #SootinClaimon.Com

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https://www.nationthailand.com/edandtech/30404757

America’s top residential solar CEO has started selling peace of mind

Apr 11. 2021Lynn Jurich, CEO of Sunrun Inc., America's largest residential-solar company, on March 9, 2021 in Park City, Utah. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Kim Raff.Lynn Jurich, CEO of Sunrun Inc., America’s largest residential-solar company, on March 9, 2021 in Park City, Utah. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Kim Raff.

By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Brian Eckhouse

Residential solar looked like a generational opportunity to Lynn Jurich back when few American homeowners had panel systems. The cost of solar equipment would fall, she surmised, and utility bills would rise. The economic case for going green would become clear.

There was little expectation that her company, Sunrun Inc., would capture new customers as a result of widespread panic triggered by fragile U.S. power grids heaving under the weight of climate calamities. But that’s happening now. Since summer 2020, emergencies have battered or threatened electricity systems in the New York area, California, the Gulf Coast, California again and in February, perhaps the most surprising place of all: Texas, the nation’s energy hub, a place unaccustomed to debilitating winter storms.

“It’s not slowing down, and it’s probably going to be even faster than we have anticipated,” says Jurich, Sunrun’s co-founder and chief executive officer. “To really combat the speed of climate change and extreme weather and what it’s doing to the grid, we need to go faster. We don’t have the luxury to rebuild this over the next 20 to 30 years.”

Climate-induced weather crises aren’t yet a primary catalyst for the growth of Sunrun, the leading residential-solar company in the U.S. But the urgency they foster is helping move the rooftop sector and home batteries into the American zeitgeist. Only about 3% of U.S. homes are equipped with solar, compared to more than 20% in Australia.

“The dynamics in places that haven’t historically been friendly to residential solar are starting to change,” says Joe Osha, an equity analyst at JMP Securities. “In Texas, you’re going to have people looking for resilience.”

America’s climate emergencies are happening at an inflection point: The U.S. residential-solar sector achieved record installations in 2020 despite an historically weak stretch early in the pandemic-and projections from Wood Mackenzie anticipate new highs in each of the next three years.

“If you had asked me in 2008, what’s the chances of weeklong blackouts in California and Texas, I would’ve said they were really low,” says Edward Fenster, a Sunrun co-founder and executive chairman. “The fact that the grid was so ill-equipped to handle modern weather, we missed. And that’s obviously created a real important urgency and opportunity around storage.”

Then there’s the change in administration: President Joe Biden is pushing to make the country’s electric system fully green by 2035, a moonshot ambition that will require a lot of rooftop capacity-as well as billions of dollars in new transmission lines that could take a decade to build to support remote pockets of robust wind and solar power. Biden’s bid will only amplify megatrends that are here to stay, no matter who ultimately succeeds him: decarbonization and the electrification of everything from vehicles to buildings to stoves, as the U.S. tries to eliminate carbon emissions in the decades ahead.

In some ways, Jurich’s company is ideally positioned to meet the moment. San Francisco-based Sunrun was the leading residential company in the U.S. even before it bought rival Vivint Solar Inc. amid the pandemic last year. It has a national brand that, while obviously nowhere near the notoriety of Tesla Inc., is gaining in consumer awareness. It also saw the potential of storage before many of its peers, which could ultimately transform the company from installer and financier to new-age utility. (Sunrun is among the companies that are working with electric-system incumbents to provide some energy from solar-powered battery systems.)

Still, there are challenges. The biggest utilities in California-America’s leading solar state-in March proposed lowering compensation for rooftop customers and adding a new connection charge. Interest rates have ticked up. There’s competition from other companies eager to participate in the electrification of residences, including solar-loan originators and local installers. And bureaucracy continues to stretch out the residential-sales process, contributing to high customer-acquisition costs.

– – –

Jurich and her family have been in Utah in recent months, where Vivint is based, while she works on integrating the company into Sunrun. It was from Utah that she watched the Texas crisis unfold, a deep freeze that caused days of blackouts and left millions in the cold and dark. More than 100 people died. “It was shocking,” Jurich says. “A lot of people across the country always like to look at California as, ‘Oh, it’s an exception; oh, it’s California.’ But when you see something so dramatic happen, and so tragic-really happen in another place, it just really makes it that much more personal and that much more visceral that this is not just about cleaner electricity, but it’s about safety and well-being and healthy households.”

Jurich, 41, is an introvert and perpetually on message-basically the opposite of Tesla CEO Elon Musk. She’s a regular on podcasts, and her company has long been one of the most engaged rooftop companies in federal and state policy.

Jurich took up meditation around 2013. “When she’s engaged in something, she’s fully there,” says Diana Chapman, a mentor to Jurich and co-founder of the Conscious Leadership Group, an organization that describes itself as supporting leaders to “build trust and create conscious cultures.”

A venture capital associate before returning to her alma mater, Stanford University, for business school, Jurich and her then-boyfriend, also an aspiring entrepreneur, agreed that the partner with the best business idea would tackle it first. Jurich was already interested in the environment. A trip to China in 2005 for an internship at an investment bank made an impression: Jurich found the pollution so bad that a necklace she had polished one morning was tarnished by evening. “I was convinced that sustainable infrastructure would be the biggest problem of our generation to solve,” she says.

Jurich got married a week before Sunrun launched in 2007, the first spouse out of the gate with a new company. Sunrun was part of a wave of clean-tech startups that came before solar reached the mainstream. The company emerged, as many Silicon Valley companies do, from a connection made at Stanford: Jurich met one of her co-founders, Fenster, at an orientation event at a site that had been billed as a houseboat. (Fenster recalls it was really a floating barge with a port-a-potty). Co-founder Nat Kreamer was a friend of Fenster’s who had come back from the war in Afghanistan and was eager to wean the U.S. off foreign energy.

Many of the startups at that time focused on making futuristic solar technologies. Sunrun followed a different route: using finance to deploy proven technology atop rooftops. The enormous investment in polysilicon that had already taken place meant that Sunrun could finance pools of rooftops and offer them to homeowners via long-term leases-a key product in the mainstreaming of rooftop systems. “We have all of the technology we need to make massive change-that was our original thesis,” Jurich says.

Her focus during the company’s startup days covered a lot of terrain-operations, strategy, boosting the efficiency of the company’s installers, fundraising, even putting flyers on cars parked at Bay Area Rapid Transit train stations. “It was a real hustle,” Jurich recalls. Fenster was the company’s initial CEO.

Sunrun spent part of 2008 trying to line up financing and closed a deal with US Bancorp as the financial markets went into free fall. “Lynn and Ed felt like the last helicopter over Saigon,” recalls Steve Vassallo, general partner at Foundation Capital, which had invested $8 million in the startup.

Jurich’s company was an early mover, but SolarCity Corp.-whose biggest shareholder was Musk, its chairman-went public first and was growing faster.

Sunrun went public in 2015. By then, Jurich was sole CEO and she had a month-old baby. “One of my favorite all-time images from our industry is that of Lynn Jurich on the day Sunrun went public,” recalls Emily Kirsch, founder and managing partner of Powerhouse Ventures, a clean-energy and mobility venture fund. “She’s surrounded by men in mostly gray blazers. She’s wearing a bright-yellow blazer while holding her newborn in her arms while she’s ringing the opening bell, as confetti falls from the sky.”

SolarCity, meanwhile, deployed 272 megawatts of systems in the final period of 2015, a high-water quarterly mark that no company has come close to matching. (Sunrun deployed 68 megawatts during that period). But the Musk-backed company was also debt-burdened. SolarCity was acquired in 2016 by Tesla-and soon began ceding market-share to Sunrun.

As panel prices continued falling, the sector firmed up its footing in California but less so in regions that boasted low power prices-thanks, in part, to the shale gas boom. Nationally, the status of federal subsidies often swayed total annual installations. Some companies “were focused completely on deploying megawatts and didn’t fully understand the economics of what they were doing,” JMP’s Osha says. “What distinguished Sunrun: They had a very good understanding of the financial implications of what they were doing. They weren’t just growing for growth’s sake.”

– – –

The SolarCity brand may be gone, but Tesla’s residential-solar business, as Osha puts it, “is back from the dead.” It’s on the upswing with a standardized, web-based approach that cuts down on customer-acquisition costs. The automaker deployed 86 megawatts of solar during the final three months of last year, its best period since third-quarter 2018. This was half Sunrun’s output in that quarter. On an earnings call in January, Musk said he expects Tesla expects to become the market leader. “But they have a long, long way to go,” Osha says. Tesla didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Jurich says the more awareness and investment in decarbonizing the system, the better. One of her mantras: “All people and all circumstances are my allies,” she says. “Even the existing, more fossil-fuel based companies and people who have worked in those industries, they deserve credit … They helped the quality of life, they played a really important role in the development of the world. And now it’s time to evolve and switch over to using decarbonized technologies.”

Residential solar companies attribute the sector’s slow market penetration in the U.S. partly to permitting delays, which help keep customer-acquisition costs stubbornly high. So the industry is pushing to streamline government approvals. “Some of the states, like California, that claim to be pro-solar are some of the worst for soft costs and permitting,” Osha says. In Australia, some residential systems cost less than $3,000 (after subsidy) and can be installed within weeks following purchase, according to Hugh Bromley, an analyst at BloombergNEF, a clean-energy research group.

But selling rooftop solar can be low-tech, and often involves heavy marketing expenses. Door-to-door sales were a sector mainstay before the pandemic struck. Sunrun’s sales and marketing costs for last year’s first quarter exceeded benchmarks for national companies and local installers. The company believes its customer-acquisition costs are competitive at the market level and deliver strong returns, contending that if it doesn’t spend the next dollar to acquire the next incremental customer, it will leave business on the table.

The promise of getting at least some blackout-proofing with solar panels and batteries is changing the sales pitch. For some homeowners, the climate crises have become effective advertisements for those products, as well as for generators.

“Inertia can take hold until things are too painful, where people now are motivated to change,” Jurich says. “I believe we’re at the beginning of that now.”

Battery demand “is so high that it has outstripped supply since late last year,” according to a Goldman Sachs research note in March. Five U.S. power outages have affected at least 1 million people since 2019, according to Pavel Molchanov, an analyst at Raymond James. The Texas crisis was particularly visible, and Sunrun experienced a 350% jump in web traffic in Texas in February. Its peers saw big surges, too.

“There’s something very empowering about being able to make your own decision and control your own electricity,” Jurich says. “We’re really innovating on turning the home into an energy asset.”

Facebook teams up with Thai artist ‘Gongkan’ for some virtual Songkran fun #SootinClaimon.Com

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https://www.nationthailand.com/edandtech/30404725

Facebook teams up with Thai artist ‘Gongkan’ for some virtual Songkran fun

Apr 10. 2021

By The Nation (sponsored news)

With people being forced to stay home due to the latest wave of Covid infections, Facebook and Instagram have gone into collaboration with famous Thai artist Kantapon “Gongkan” Metheekul to offer #SongkranTogether array of AR effects, stickers and profile frames.

“Songkran is the festival of happiness, but due to the current situation, people cannot go out and have all that water-splashing fun. Therefore, I wanted everyone to be able to celebrate and send happiness virtually during the holiday. I designed the Facebook profile frame, AR filters and sticker pack with the sincere hope that everyone will be able to digitally share smiles and send happiness to family and friends,” Kantaporn said.

Here are some fun ways you can mark Songkran via Facebook and Instagram this year:

1. Show off your inner artist with the new #SongkranTogether feature

• Change your Facebook profile frame: Tap your profile picture, click on “update profile picture”, choose “add frame”, look for or type “Songkran by Gongkan” or “Gongkan” to change the frame.

• Add AR effects or Stickers: Brows the Effects Gallery on Instagram Stories or its GIPHY Stickers tray and search for “Gongkan”, or simply click https://www.instagram.com/ar/2981494935459809.

• Add your preferred effect or sticker to your photo or video with the #SongkranTogether hashtag.

2. Join the at-home “Water Splash” fun on Instagram Reels with #SongkranTogether hashtag

• Launched in late March, Instagram’s newest short-form video feature #ReelsTH can be a fun, safe way to enjoy Songkran. Get creative with a simple 30-second clip or three-frame reel, where you are dry in the first shot and wet by the end. Get your friends and family to join you virtually by making their own #SongkranTogether moment. Don’t forget to add the #SongkranTogether and #ReelsTH hashtags and some of the popular songs people have been enjoying on Reels in Thailand.

3. Explore Facebook Watch see how others are celebrating with the #SongkranTogether hashtag

• Did you know that there are 37 million people in Thailand who come to Watch and enjoy video content on Facebook every month? Explore the fun and exclusively curated Songkran video content on Facebook Watch from Thai publishers and content creators such as Boriboon Family, Plaocooking and Tagple by following the hashtag #SongkranTogether.

For more information and fun virtual activities, check out Facebook Thailand’s official page at https://www.facebook.com/FacebookThailand.

NASA receives first weather reports from Perseverance rover on Mars at Jezero Crater #SootinClaimon.Com

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NASA receives first weather reports from Perseverance rover on Mars at Jezero Crater

Apr 09. 2021NASA's Ingenuity helicopter. MUST CREDIT: Photo by NASANASA’s Ingenuity helicopter. MUST CREDIT: Photo by NASA

By The Washington Post · Matthew Cappucci

The NASA Perseverance rover reported this week on the weather from Mars’s Jezero Crater for the first time, providing data that will augment scientific understanding of the Martian atmosphere and inform future decisions about the rover’s mission.

The weather data will also help mission scientists decide when to launch Ingenuity, a drone-like helicopter that’s set to take flight as early as Sunday.

Perseverance, which was launched from Earth on July 30, arrived on Mars in mid-February and has been exploring the surface and collecting data.

Scientists say its weather will better shape what we know about radiative processes and the cycle of water in Mars’s atmosphere. There is not much of it, but water trapped beneath solid carbon-dioxide ice caps at the poles can be vaporized during the summertime and enter the atmosphere. Part of the plan with Perseverance is to unlock clues about what happens afterward.

Perseverance is in Mars’s Jezero Crater, a site NASA chose for the rover’s landing thanks to its wide expanses, free of obstacles, and the presence of a dried-up river delta from 3.5 billion years ago.

On April 3 and 4, the rover’s Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer, or MEDA, reported a high temperature of minus-7.6 degrees, and a low of minus-117.4 degrees. That rivals the coldest temperature measured on Earth – minus-128.6 degrees observed at the Vostok weather station in Antarctica on July 21, 1983.

The MEDA probes for temperature at four levels – the surface, 2.76 feet, 4.76 feet and 98.43 feet. While barely touching the surface of the lower atmosphere, the MEDA is expected to help offer insight into Mars’s radiation budget. In other words, scientists will learn how sunlight striking the surface is transformed into heat that enters and cycles through the atmosphere.

Perseverance is not the first spacecraft to send weather observations from the surface of Mars. Curiosity, which landed in 2011, suffered damage to one of its wind sensors. That meant that it could measure wind speed, but not wind direction. Because Perseverance can tell from which way the winds are blowing, scientists hope to use its observations in tandem with those of Curiosity and satellite measurements to learn about Mars’s general atmospheric circulation.

Arguably of greatest utility to scientists in the short term is the potential for Perseverance’s observations to inform mission-critical decisions, and ultimately when the famed Ingenuity helicopter will be tested. The helicopter was lodged in the underbelly of Perseverance, where it was stowed for the journey to Mars; on March 21, Perseverance shed the graphite debris shield that had protected Ingenuity during travel.

Ingenuity’s first flight is slated for no earlier than Sunday, a touch later than the original projection of Thursday.

Even if the helicopter is in full working order, flying on the Red Planet is no easy feat. The atmosphere, mostly made up of carbon dioxide, is barely 1% of Earth’s density. Helicopters on Earth cannot take off at high elevations because the air is too thin. Imagine that factor multiplied by 50 on Mars. NASA tested Ingenuity in vacuum chambers at its Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

That effect is acutely offset by Mars’s weaker gravity – about a third that of Earth. Still, working to construct a helicopter able to fly on Mars required years of engineering. Even the planet’s temperatures had to be taken into consideration; the extreme cold can “freeze and crack unprotected electrical components,” NASA wrote.

And before it can roam, NASA plans to conduct test flights to make sure everything is in working order. Just deploying the helicopter to its launchpad will take six days and four hours. During one of the final phases of deployment, Perseverance charged Ingenuity’s batteries before the cords were cut; then, the rover drove off, allowing sunlight to beam onto the helicopter’s solar panels to charge it.

During Ingenuity’s first test flight, its rotors will be spun at more than 2,500 revolutions per minute, and the helicopter will ascend through the thin atmosphere to just 10 feet. After hovering for up to 30 seconds, it will touchback down. NASA scientists will spend a few days gathering data and reviewing the flight’s performance before undertaking more complex endeavors in the future.

In the meantime, scientists will continue to await more detailed weather information from Perseverance and scope out an ideal airstrip for the helicopter. Ingenuity weighs only four pounds, its lightweight frame highly susceptible to even gentle winds.

Assuming an initial test flight does occur Sunday, NASA plans to host a live broadcast of the results early Monday.

Thai kids most interested in online video, audio content: Kaspersky data #SootinClaimon.Com

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https://www.nationthailand.com/edandtech/30404659

Thai kids most interested in online video, audio content: Kaspersky data

Apr 08. 2021

By The Nation

Statistics gathered by Kaspersky Safe Kids show Thai children are most interested in software, audio and video than computer games, the global anti-virus firm said in a press release while announcing its report on children’s behaviour on the web over the past year amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Technology is what is saving us from a complete change in the way of life in a world of a raging pandemic. It keeps the educational process going, relieves the shortage of human communication and helps us to live life as fully as possible given the isolation and social distancing. In this situation, many adults and children, too, have come to realise that the computer is not just a means of entertainment but an important tool for education, communication and personal growth, Kaspersky noted.

In 2020, children in Thailand most visited websites with video and audio content (45.31%). In second place was internet communication media (26.06%), in which children visited web versions of WhatsApp and Telegram, Facebook, Instagram and other sites in this category. Third place went to e-commerce websites (11.35%). But interest in computer games turned out low, at 9.93%, the firm said.

Kaspersky’s statistics are based on anonymised data collected by its security network from users of Kaspersky Safe Kids, a software solution that protects children from unwanted content on the internet on both Windows and macOS platforms.

“The children of today started interacting with technology at an early age and do not know a world without the internet, computers or mobile devices,” said Yeo Siang Tiong, general manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky.

“With the onset of the pandemic, their exposure and intertwining of technology in their lives is now more so than ever – whether it is for learning or leisure. As they live in the age of the internet, it is our responsibility to ensure that we provide a safe space for them to learn and grow, and to protect them from exposure to negative content and vices that are rampant on the web,” he said.

While only a small portion, Kaspersky in 2020 still blocked some Thai kids’ attempts to visit websites related to dangerous content such as pornography (0.28%), hate and discrimination (0.05%), weapons (0.05%), internet gambling (0.04%) and drugs (0.01%).

“We will not be able to eradicate the existence of vices on the internet, such as pornography, gambling, content around hate and discrimination and even weapon or drug use, nor can we completely prevent children from being exposed to them as they continue to grow independent. However, aside from setting in place the appropriate cyber-safety measures for our children, we can also educate them to form a healthy understanding and recognition of these vices and guide them,” Yeo added.

Kaspersky offers some good tips to parents to ensure their children have a positive online experience:

• Spend more time communicating with your children about online safety measures. Tell your children what must not, under any circumstances, be published on the internet and why.

• Surf and learn together. See where they spend their time online and explore how to best keep them safe. Also spend time with them playing online games, so you can learn from each other.

• Explain that all the sensitive information can be shared only via messengers and only with people you know in real life.

• Learn more about your children’s interests.

Kaspersky said its Safe Kids feature can provide parents with regular reports on what makes their children’s day. The app analyses kids’ online search activity and manages screen time without encroaching on their personal space. For more information, visit: https://securelist.com/how-kids-coped-with-covid…/100450/.

Singapore warns public against crypto as world warms to Bitcoin #SootinClaimon.Com

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https://www.nationthailand.com/edandtech/30404596

Singapore warns public against crypto as world warms to Bitcoin

Apr 07. 2021Mining devices at the CryptoUniverse cryptocurrency mining farm in Nadvoitsy, Russia. MUST CREDIT: Bloomnerg photo by Andrey RudakovMining devices at the CryptoUniverse cryptocurrency mining farm in Nadvoitsy, Russia. MUST CREDIT: Bloomnerg photo by Andrey Rudakov

By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Joanna Ossinger

Singapore once again warned the public about the risks of trading cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, a market that while relatively small in the city-state has surged in significance over the past year.

“Cryptocurrencies can be highly volatile, as their value is typically not related to any economic fundamentals,” Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, said in response to a parliamentary question on Monday. “They are hence highly risky as investment products, and certainly not suitable for retail investors.”

He said that cryptocurrency funds are not authorized for sale to retail investors. The MAS also has powers to impose additional measures on digital token service providers, under which exchanges offering the trading of cryptocurrencies are regulated, as needed, according to Tharman, who is also senior minister and coordinating minister for social policies.

Tharman’s comments come as the total market value of cryptocurrencies pushed past $2 trillion for the first time, doubling in about two months amid surging institutional demand. Bitcoin has been on a tear as investors dabble in crypto as a way to boost returns on cash in a world of near-zero interest rates, with the likes of Tesla Inc. saying last month it will accept its use as payment for cars.

Cryptocurrency trading in Singapore remains small compared to shares and bonds, with the combined peak daily trading volumes of Bitcoin, Ethereum and XRP accounting for 2% of the average daily trading volume of securities on the main stock exchange last year, Tharman said.

While the likes of Elon Musk, Mark Cuban and Paul Tudor Jones have endorsed cryptocurrencies, Tharman isn’t the only regulator to express caution about an industry where fraud is still a concern. A European Union watchdog recently warned of “significant” investor risks after Bitcoin’s gains, and Gary Gensler, the nominee to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission, said in his confirmation hearing that ensuring the crypto market is free of fraud is a challenge for the agency.

Meanwhile, authorities in Singapore have stepped up efforts to combat money-laundering and terrorism financing risks associated with cryptocurrencies, Tharman said.

Among the measures it has taken, the MAS has increased surveillance of the crypto sector to identify suspicious networks and higher-risk activities that may need further scrutiny, Tharman said. MAS is also continuing to raise awareness on risks of investing in digital assets to help people avoid being cheated or “inadvertently used as mules,” he said.

“The crypto assets space is constantly evolving,” Tharman said. “MAS has been closely monitoring developments and will continue to adapt its rules as needed to ensure that regulation remains effective and commensurate with the risks posed. Investors, on their part, should exercise extreme caution when trading cryptocurrencies.”