Rank #1: Microgrids can help us be more energy resilient
PG&E has said it could take a decade to upgrade its infrastructure so it’s less likely to spark deadly fires. On Thursday, the utility reported a $1.6 billion loss in the third quarter related to fire charges. A group of California mayors think PG&E should be turned into a publicly owned cooperative utility. Is the answer here just to get off the grid or for utilities to split up into lots of smaller microgrids?
Nov 08 2019
Rank #2: Return of the JEDI contract
After a very dramatic bidding process, U.S. Department of Defense last month awarded a $10 billion cloud computing contract to Microsoft. Several companies, including Oracle, claimed the process was rigged and that President Donald Trump threatened to personally intervene in the choosing process because he’s been a critic of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Nov 07 2019
Rank #3: Your “cloud” data is making noise on the ground
As the amount of data coursing through the internet grows, so does the infrastructure needed to keep all that data flowing. Huge data centers are popping up around the country, but data centers don’t always make good neighbors due to their noise. Bianca Bosker, a contributing writer for The Atlantic, wrote about Chandler, Arizona, where a group of neighbors have taken on data center giant CyrusOne.
Nov 06 2019
Rank #4: Google bought Fitbit for the data, of course
Google announced plans to buy Fitbit for more than $2 billion, and make no mistake, it’s not for the wristbands. Last year, it announced an effort to use artificial intelligence to scan electronic health records to make predictions about what might happen with hospitalized patients. Kirsten Ostherr, the director of the Medical Futures Lab and the medical humanities program at Rice University, said Fitbit’s trove of data is all about social determinants.
Nov 05 2019
Rank #5: Amazon wants the public to know its warehouses are fun enough for the Girl Scouts
Amazon warehouses are key to the company’s operations. Items arrive, get sorted and are packaged and shipped off. But they don’t have a reputation for being great places to work. For example, last year, there were those reports about employees urinating in bottles at a U.K. warehouse to avoid taking bathroom breaks. Now Amazon is offering more public tours of its warehouses. The company says it wants to be transparent about how it operates and to inspire kids. We tagged along with a bunch of Girl Scouts on a tour.
Oct 10 2019
Rank #6: Does encryption help with privacy, or does it violate public safety?
Law enforcement officials in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, including U.S. Attorney General William Barr, wrote an open letter to Facebook last week asking it to hold off on plans to expand end-to-end encryption in Facebook Messenger. That kicked off a heated debate about privacy and public safety.
Oct 09 2019
Rank #7: The neobank’s promise: No branches near you
The tech industry is coming for traditional banking. Digital payment apps are changing how we move money around. A wave of so-called neobanks — all-digital services that let people do everything on a smartphone without any branches — is cropping up in the United States. Molly Wood speaks with Jelena McWilliams, the chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., best known for providing federal insurance to licensed banks. The agency also has oversight and consumer protection responsibilities. McWilliams said that there’s a lot going on.
Nov 04 2019
Rank #8: Tesla’s new parked-car trick: Press a button on your phone, the car comes to you. Or close. Maybe.
Tesla’s latest over-the-air software update for its cars is perfect fodder for online viral videos. It added a feature the company calls “smart summon.” Owners use an app on their phone to summon their cars from about 200 feet away, and have it drive to them all by itself with nobody inside — just hold down a button. Ars Technica’s Timothy Lee, who watched 100 videos Tesla owners have uploaded using the smart summon feature, said the results seem to vary.
Oct 17 2019
Rank #9: Mark Zuckerberg works to convince Congress: Libra should exist
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was in Washington yesterday trying to keep the dream of the global digital currency called Libra alive. When Facebook laid out a vision for Libra, not everyone believed it. Lisa Ellis, an analyst at MoffettNathanson, said that at a minimum Libra will have to win back partners like Visa, PayPal or Stripe if it’s going to survive.
Oct 24 2019
Rank #10: Twitter bans political ads, but is that all good?
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that the social giant would ban political ads whether they’re about candidates or political issues. The move put even more of a spotlight on Facebook, which is not only taking political ads but is also not fact-checking them. While most people cheered Twitter’s move, critics said it puts a company in charge of deciding what’s political and could shut smaller groups or candidates out of a cheaper way to reach people.
Nov 01 2019