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+ - GM Embeds Teen Tracking App in New Malibu ->

Lucas123 writes: GM announced 2016 models of the Chevy Malibu will offer a Teen Driver tracking application that will monitor everything from driving speed to the number of times the anti-lock braking mechanism was used while their kids were in the car. Upon return, a parent can bring up a "report card" on the head unit screen and see the top speed, stability control events, antilock brake events, forward collision alerts, among other things. The new feature can be enabled on Chevy's MyLink in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) system and can be accessed via a password by parents. The Teen Driver alert system will not only monitor activity, but also alert and restrict certain activities, such as driving without a seat belt — try it and the music system will be muted. The Teen Driver system also gives audible and visual warnings when the vehicle is traveling faster than speeds preset by a parent.
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+ - Solar Power Capacity Installs Surpass Wind and Coal for Second Year 1 1

Lucas123 writes: Residential rooftop solar installations hit a historical high in the first quarter of 2015, garnering an 11% increase over the previous quarter and a 76% increase over the Q1, 2014. New installations of solar power capacity surpassed those of wind and coal for the second year in a row, accounting for 32% of all new electrical capacity, according to a new report by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association. Residential solar installation costs dropped to $3.46 per watt of installed capacity this quarter, which represents a 2.2% reduction over last quarter and a 10% reduction over the first quarter of 2014.

+ - NAND Flash Shrinks to 15/16nm Process, Further Driving Prices Down->

Lucas123 writes: Both Micron and Toshiba are producing NAND flash memory based on 15 and 16 nanometer process technology, which reduces die area over a 16GB MLC chip by 28% compared with previous die technology. Additionally, Micron announced its upcoming consumer USB flash drives and internal SSDs will also use triple-level cell NAND flash (a technology expected to soon dominate the market) storing three bits instead of two for the first time and further reducing production cost. The advancement in NAND flash density has been driving SSD pricing down dramatically over the past few years. In fact, over the last year, the average price for a 128GB and 256GB SSDs have dropped to $50 and $90, respectively for system manufacturers, according to DRAMeXchange. And prices for consumers have dropped to $91.55 for a 128GB SSD and $164.34 for a 256GB SSD.
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+ - SSDs Drop In Price 25% Over Past Year->

Lucas123 writes: Computer makers are paying on average $50 for a 128GB SSD and about $90 for a 256GB drive, according to DRAMeXchange. The average retail price that consumers pay for a 128GB SSD is $91.55, and for an SSD in the 240GB to 256GB range, the price is about $165.34, DRAMeXchange's data showed. A combination of denser NAND flash manufacturing process and laptop industry adoption has lead to a massive drop in SSD prices over the past year. The latest numbers from DRAMeXchange indicates prices for internal SSDs are declining at an accelerated pace as the production of NAND flash migrates to 15 nanometer process, triple-level cell and 3D NAND technologies. Previously, NAND transistors size was in the 19-plus nanometer range: More density equals lower production costs. Additionally, hard drives in notebooks are quickly being swapped out by manufacturers and SSD market penetration will be more than 30% for 2015 and will surpass 50% by 2017 to dominate the sector. The sheer economies of scale is also leading to SSD price decline.
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+ - Fabs Now Manufacturing Carbon Nanotube Memory, Which Could Replace NAND and DRAM->

Lucas123 writes: Nantero, the company that invented carbon nanotube-based non-volatile memory in 2001 and has been developing it since, has announced that seven chip fabrication plants are now manufacturing its Nano-RAM (NRAM) wafers and test chips. The company also announced aerospace giant Lockheed Martin and Schlumberger Ltd., the world's largest gas and oil exploration and drilling company, as customers seeking to use its chip technology. The memory, which can withstand 300 degrees Celsius temperatures for years without losing data, is natively thousands of times faster than NAND flash and has virtually infinite read/write resilience. Nantero plans on creating gum sticks SSDs using DDR4 interfaces. NRAM has the potential to create memory that is vastly more dense that NAND flash, as its transistors can shrink to below 5 nanometers in size, three times more dense than today's densest NAND flash. At the same time, NRAM is up against a robust field of new memory technologies that are expected to challenge NAND flash in speed, endurance and capacity, such as Phase-Change Memory and Ferroelectric RAM (FRAM).
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+ - Florida Hospital Shows Internet Lag Time Won't Affect Remote Robotic Surgeries->

Lucas123 writes: Remote robotic surgery performed hundreds or even thousands of miles away from the physician at the controls is possible and safe, according to the Florida Hospital that recently tested Internet lag times for the technology. Roger Smith, CTO at the Florida Hospital Nicholson Center in Celebration, Fla., said the hospital tested the lag time to a partner facility in Ft. Worth, Texas and found it ranged from 30 to 150 milliseconds, which surgeons could not detect as they moved remote robotic laparoscopic instruments. The tests, performed using a surgical simulator called a Mimic, will now be performed as if operating remotely in Denver and then Loma Linda, Calif. The Mimic Simulator system enables virtual procedures performed by a da Vinci robotic surgical system, the most common equipment in use today; it's used for hundreds of thousands of surgeries every year around the world. With a da Vinci system, surgeons today can perform operations yards away from a patient, even in separate but adjoining rooms to the OR. By stretching that distance to tens, hundreds or thousands of miles, the technology could enable patients to receive operations from top surgeons that would otherwise not be possible, including wounded soldiers near a battlefield. The Mimic Simulator was able to first artificially dial up lag times, starting with 200 milliseconds all the way up to 600 milliseconds.
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+ - GM to Offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto API in Most 2016 Vehicles->

Lucas123 writes: GM today announced it will offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto mirroring APIs on 14 of its 2016 vehicles. GM's announcement follows one earlier this week by Hyundai, which said it would offer Android Auto in its Sonata Sedan this year. Some of GM's Chevrolet vehicles — such as the Malibu, Camaro and Silverado truck — use a seven-inch MyLink infotainment system; those systems will be compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in the beginning of 2016. Those models offering the smartphone mirroring apps include the all-new 2016 Cruze compact, which will debut on June 24. Other GM vehicles use an eight-inch version of MyLink that will only be compatible with Apple CarPlay at the beginning of the new model year. While development and testing is not yet complete, Android Auto compatibility may be available on the eight-inch version of MyLink later in the 2016 model year, GM said.
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+ - MIT Report Says Current Tech Enables Future Terawatt-Scale Solar Power Systems ->

Lucas123 writes: Even with today's inefficient wafer-based crystalline silicon photovoltaics, terawatt-scale solar power systems are coming down the pike, according to a 356-page report from MIT on the future of solar energy. Solar electricity generation is one of "very few low-carbon energy technologies" with the potential to grow to very large scale, the study states. In fact, solar resources dwarf current and projected future electricity demand. The report, however, also called out a lack of funds for R&D on newer solar technology, such as thin-film wafers that may be able to achieve lower costs in the long run. Even more pressing than the technology are state and federal policies that squelch solar deployment. For example, government subsidies to solar are dwarfed by subsidies to other energy sources, and trade policies have restricted PV module and other commodity product imports in order to aid domestic industry. Additionally, even though PV module and inverter costs are essentially identical in the United States and Germany, total U.S.residential system costs are substantially above those in Germany.
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+ - Tesla Claims Its New $3,000 Battery Will Let Homes Go Off Grid->

Lucas123 writes: Tesla CEO Elon Musk last night announced a new business line and three new lithium-ion batteries it will sell for residential and commercial use. The wall-hung residential battery — called the Powerwall — has a starting price of $3,000 and holds 7kWh of capacity. A 10kWh model retails for $3,500. The batteries can be ordered today and will be shipping in three to four months. The stylized home batteries come in different colors and protrude just 7.5-in a wall. Up to nine Powerwall battery units can be daisy-chained together on a wall to provide homes with up to 90kWh of power. The new commercial-grade battery, called the Powerpack, is a monolithic tower that will sell in 100kWh modules for $25,000. Musk said the Powerpack can scale infinitely, even powering small cities. The new batteries are being sold to supplement intermittent power like solar and wind, but Musk said the technology, which will be open sourced for other companies to use, can take homes and businesses of the grid. The average U.S. household uses about 20 kWh to 25 kWh of power every day, according to GTM Research." You can take your solar panels, charge the battery packs and that's all you use," said Musk, who is also chairman of SolarCity, the largest installer of solar panels in the U.S. Residential households and companies with a solar power systems can charge the batteries during the day and use them in off peak hours or supplement power use during peak hours to avoid time-of-use tariffs imposed by utilities. Tesla is already manufacturing the batteries in its current facilities, but it will soon turn that operation over to its Gigafactories, the first of which is under construction outside Reno, Nevada and will go online next year. Like the batteries, the Gigafactory process will also be open for other companies to emulate in the hope that renewable power combined with battery storage will someday eliminate the need for fossil fuel production of energy. "This is not something we think Tesla will do alone," Musk said. "There's going to need to be many other companies building Gigafactory-class operations of their own. We hope they do."
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+ - Disney replaces longtime IT staff with H-1B workers->

Lucas123 writes: Disney CEO Bob Iger is one of eight co-chairs of the Partnership for a New American Economy, a leading group advocating for an increase in the H-1B visa cap. Last Friday, the partnership was a sponsor of an H-1B briefing at the U.S. Capitol for congressional staffers. The briefing was closed to the press. One of the briefing documents obtained after the meeting stated, "H-1B workers complement — instead of displace — U.S. Workers." Last October, however, Disney laid off at least 135 IT staff (though employees say it was hundreds more), many of them longtime workers. Disney then replaced them with H-1B contractors that company said could better "focus on future innovation and new capabilities." The fired workers believe the primary motivation behind Disney's action was cost-cutting. "Some of these folks were literally flown in the day before to take over the exact same job I was doing," one former employee said. Disney officials promised new job opportunities as a result of the restructuring, but the former staff interviewed by Computerworld said they knew of few co-workers who had landed one of the new jobs. Use of visa workers in a layoff is a public policy issue, particularly for Disney. Ten U.S. senators are currently seeking a federal investigation into displacement of IT workers by H-1B-using contractors. Kim Berry, president of the Programmer's Guild, said Congress should protect American workers by mandating that positions can only be filled by H-1B workers when no qualified American — at any wage — can be found to fill the position."
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+ - Why Our Antiquated Power Grid Needs Battery Storage ->

Lucas123 writes: Last year, renewable energy sources accounted for half of new installed electric-generation capacity (natural gas units made up most of the remainder). As more photovoltaic panels are installed on rooftops around the nation, an antiquated power grid is being overburdened by a bidirectional load its was never engineered to handle. The Hawaiian Electric Company, for example, said it's struggling with electricity "backflow" that could destabilize its system. Batteries for distributed renewable power has the potential to mitigate the load on the national grid by allowing a redistribution of power during peak hours. As such Tesla, which is expected to announce batteries for homes and utilities on Thursday, and others are targeting a market estimated to be $1.2B market by 2019. Along with taking up some of the load during peak house, battery capacity can be used when power isn't being generated by renewable systems, such as at night and during inclement weather. That also reduces grid demand.
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+ - Tesla To Unveil Its Gigafatory's Home/Utility-Scale Batteries->

Lucas123 writes: Elon Musk is expected to announce batteries that will store power from renewable energy sources in homes and for utilities that will supplement their power supply in off hours at night and during inclement weather. The announcement will take place next Thursday (April 30) at 8 p.m. Musk is also chairman of SolarCity, the largest provider of residential solar systems in the U.S., which controls 30% to 40% of the U.S. market. Tesla plans to mass produce household- and utility-grade batteries in a $5 billion lithium-ion battery factory project it calls the "Gigafactory" — the first one of which is being constructed in Nevada. As battery technology evolves, it could pave the way to cost effectively store both wind and solar-generated energy and connect to electrical power grids. The technology also could be used by businesses and homes, which could virtually remain off the power grid except in emergencies. The grid, essentially, would be the backup. The company is currently beta-testing its batteries in about 330 homes, mainly in California. Those batteries can hold up to 10kWh of electricity. The utility-grade model is expected to have a 400kWh capacity.
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+ - NASA's Rocket Maker To Begin 3D Printing Flight-Ready Components ->

Lucas123 writes: United Launch Alliance (ULA), the company that makes rockets for NASA and the U.S. Air Force, plans to 3D print more than 100 flight-ready components for its next-gen Vulcan rocket. The company also just printed its first flight-ready component, a new Environmental Control System for its current Atlas V rocket. The ECS assembly had previously contained 140 parts that were made by third party suppliers, but ULA was able to reduce the parts to just 16, resulting in a 57% part-cost reduction. Along with cost reduction, ULA said 3D printing frees it from contracts with parts providers who may or may not deliver on time depending on whether the deem the rocket maker a priority at any given time. The company, which launches 12 rockets each year, is also hoping to use 3D printing for a more traditional role — rapid prototyping of parts. "We have a long list of [parts] candidates to evaluate — over 100 polymer parts we're considering and another 50 or so metal parts we're considering," said Greg Arend, program manager for additive manufacturing at ULA.
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+ - When You're the NFL Commish, Getting E-Medical Record Interoperability's a Cinch->

Lucas123 writes: The NFL recently completed the rollout of an electronic medical record (EMR) system and picture archiving and communication system (PACS) that allows mobile access for teams to player's health information at the swipe of a finger — radiological images, GPS tracking information, and detailed health evaluation data back to grade school. But as NFL football players are on the road a lot, often they're not being treated at hospitals or by specialists whose own EMRs are integrated with the NFL's; it's a microcosm of the industry-wide healthcare interoperability issue facing the U.S. today. The NFL, however, found achieving EMR interoperability isn't so much a technological issue as a political one, and if you have publicity on your side, it's not that difficult. NFL CIO Michelle McKenna-Doyle, who led the NFL's EMR rollout, said a call from a team owner to a hospital administrator typically does the trick. Even NFL Commissioner Roger Godell once made the call to a hospital CEO, "and things started moving in the next couple of days," McKenna-Doyle said. "They're very aware of the publicity."
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+ - Kludgey Electronic Heatlh Records Are Becomming Fodder for Malpractice Suits->

Lucas123 writes: The inherent issues that come with highly complex and kludgey electronic medical records — and for the healthcare professionals required to use them — hasn't been lost on lawyers, who see the potential for millions of dollars in judgments for plaintiffs suing for medical negligence or malpractice. Work flows that require a dozen or more mouse clicks to input even basic patient information has prompted healthcare workers to seek short cuts, such as cutting and pasting from previous visits, a practice that can also include the duplication of old vital sign data, or other critical information, such as a patient's age. While the malpractice suits have to date focused on care providers, they'll soon target EMR vendors, according to Keith Klein, a medical doctor and professor of medicine at UCLA. Klein has been called as an expert witness for more than 350 state or federal medical malpractice cases and he's seen a marked rise in plaintiff attorney's using EMRs as evidence that healthcare workers fell short of their responsibility for proper care. In one such case, a judge awarded more than $7.5 million when a patient suffered permanent kidney damage, and even though physicians hadn't neglected the patient, the complexity of the EMR was responsible for them missing uric kidney stone. The EMR was ore than 3,000 pages in length and included massive amounts of duplicated information, something that's not uncommon.
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