The Internet - The first Worldwide Tool of Unification ("The End of History")

" ... Now I give you something that few think about: What do you think the Internet is all about, historically? Citizens of all the countries on Earth can talk to one another without electronic borders. The young people of those nations can all see each other, talk to each other, and express opinions. No matter what the country does to suppress it, they're doing it anyway. They are putting together a network of consciousness, of oneness, a multicultural consciousness. It's here to stay. It's part of the new energy. The young people know it and are leading the way.... "

" ... I gave you a prophecy more than 10 years ago. I told you there would come a day when everyone could talk to everyone and, therefore, there could be no conspiracy. For conspiracy depends on separation and secrecy - something hiding in the dark that only a few know about. Seen the news lately? What is happening? Could it be that there is a new paradigm happening that seems to go against history?... " Read More …. "The End of History"- Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)

"Recalibration of Free Choice"– Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: (Old) Souls, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth, 4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical) 8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) - (Text version)

“…5 - Integrity That May Surprise…

Have you seen innovation and invention in the past decade that required thinking out of the box of an old reality? Indeed, you have. I can't tell you what's coming, because you haven't thought of it yet! But the potentials of it are looming large. Let me give you an example, Let us say that 20 years ago, you predicted that there would be something called the Internet on a device you don't really have yet using technology that you can't imagine. You will have full libraries, buildings filled with books, in your hand - a worldwide encyclopedia of everything knowable, with the ability to look it up instantly! Not only that, but that look-up service isn't going to cost a penny! You can call friends and see them on a video screen, and it won't cost a penny! No matter how long you use this service and to what depth you use it, the service itself will be free.

Now, anyone listening to you back then would perhaps have said, "Even if we can believe the technological part, which we think is impossible, everything costs something. There has to be a charge for it! Otherwise, how would they stay in business?" The answer is this: With new invention comes new paradigms of business. You don't know what you don't know, so don't decide in advance what you think is coming based on an old energy world. ..."
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)



Etiquette mavens say the book on manners must be rewritten, literally, to take into
account new technologies and social media (AFP Photo/Ed Jones)

A 2012 survey by Intel found that in several countries, a majority said they were put
off by "oversharing" of pictures and personal information on the
internet and smartphones (AFP Photo/Nicolas Asfouri)

German anti-hate speech group counters Facebook trolls

German anti-hate speech group counters Facebook trolls
Logo No Hate Speech Movement

Bundestag passes law to fine social media companies for not deleting hate speech

Honouring computing’s 1843 visionary, Lady Ada Lovelace. (Design of doodle by Kevin Laughlin)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Kenya's cellphone bank gives loans from just a dollar

Google – AFP, Daniel Wesangula (AFP), 28 April 2013

A woman sells beverages near an advertisement for a new cellphone-based
banking initiative in Nairobi on April 27, 2013 (AFP, Tony Karumba)

NAIROBI — Six months ago, Jane Adhiambo Achieng walked into a local Kenyan bank with the hope of getting a loan for her small grocery business.

After providing all the paperwork and after weeks of back and forth between her and bank officials, she was turned down.

"They just told me I don't qualify. My income was too little," said 42-year-old Achieng, who was asking for some $250 -- about half her monthly turnover -- to expand her fruit and vegetable stall in the Kenyan capital.

But in early March, she applied for the same amount through a different source -- and got the money in a matter of minutes.

She credits the Kenyan mobile telephone money application called M-Shwari that lent her the cash for facilitating the growth of her business.

M-Shwari is a new banking platform that allows subscribers of Kenya's biggest mobile network, Safaricom, to operate savings accounts, earn interest on deposits, and borrow money using their mobile phones.

It expands on Kenya's revolutionary use of sending money by mobile phone -- known as M-Pesa, "mobile money" in Swahili -- launched in 2007 and now widely used across the east African nation, where some 70 percent of people have mobile phones.

With a minimum transfer of cash set at five shillings -- around five US cents -- the application revolutionised day-to-day banking for millions left out of the formal system, and is used for transactions ranging from sending money to far-away relatives to paying utility bills or even school fees.

Now it is hoped the new M-Shwari application -- meaning "no hassle" -- can do the same for savers and borrowers.

"We have always been thinking of how to move M-Pesa forward. We knew there was a boundary to be broken and the next frontier was to be reached," said Nzioka Muita, communications manager at Safaricom, which owns both the M-Pesa and M-Shwari systems.

Through this platform, Safaricom says clients can open a bank account, move money in and out of their savings accounts, and access instant micro-credit of a minimum of 100 Kenyan shillings -- slightly more than a dollar -- at any time, all through the mobile phone application.

While loans must be repaid within a month, a single fee of 7.5 percent is charged, a far lower interest rate than high-street banks. Maximum loans depend on how much clients have in their M-Shwari accounts.

The mobile banking application has been so successful that on its first day of operations late last year, more than 70,000 new accounts were opened.

"Up to this point in time, no one in the formal banking sector had thought of implementing such an idea," said Tiberius Barasa, an economic expert with Kenya's Institute of Policy Research and Analysis.

"I am sure that a few bank managers are looking at M-Shwari steadily to see if it is a potential threat to their business."

People wait for a bus near an advertisement for a new cellphone-based
banking initiative in Nairobi on April 27, 2013 (AFP, Tony Karumba)

At least 12 million Kenyans remain outside the formal banking system, according to central bank estimates.

Safaricom controls about 70 percent of the Kenya mobile-phone market, translating to some 19 million subscribers. Of those, some 15 million are already M-Pesa users, a customer base rivalling any banking institution.

On its own, M-Pesa transactions account for more than $50 million (38 million euros) every day in Kenya.

"This is a huge head start for the company," Barasa said.

M-Shwari was launched in partnership with one of Kenya's privately owned banks, the Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA), a deal that could see it boost its slice of the banking sector of east Africa's largest economy.

The family of newly elected President Uhuru Kenyatta hold the major stake in CBA, which provides the banking infrastructure for M-Shwari.

Currently, even with its slightly over $1 billion asset base, it is still some distance away from east Africa's largest banks, such as Equity Bank, Cooperative Bank and the Kenya Commercial Bank.

"In a matter of years, through the sheer volume of transactions that they will be handling on a daily basis, CBA may become a banking powerhouse in the region," Barasa said.

Policy analysts believe that the biggest winners from the M-Shwari service will be those in the market previously thought unbankable, due to its meagre savings and individuals located in remote, inaccessible parts of the country.

"This will greatly change our lives. You can access credit from any part of the country," Abbas Godana, a school teacher in Kenya's remote eastern Tana River district, told AFP.

"You do not have to travel for miles to your bank just to complete some paperwork and wait for the manager to approve the loan."

Godana's village, Cha Mwana Muma, is some 30 kilometres (20 miles) from the nearest shopping centre in which his bank operates a branch -- which, in the impoverished coastal area, where roads are virtually nonexistent, can take a whole day to travel.

In February this year, three months after its launch, transactions on M-Shwari crossed the $35-million mark, with 1.6 million customers having used the service for deposits or loans.

M-Shwari was not the first: telecommunications company Bharti Airtel, an Indian-owned firm, launched a similar product last year known as Kopa Chapaa -- Swahili for "borrow money" -- but the product has not had as much impact.

Smaller micro-credit loan companies have also set up similar schemes.

But "Safaricom has the numbers," Barasa said. "All they need to do is ensure that whatever they come up with resonates with the majority of their subscribers."

3D printing 'could herald new industrial revolution'

Google – AFP, Jonathan Fowler (AFP), 28 April 2013 

An object made with a 3D printer on display at the "Inside 3D Printing"
exhibition in New York on April 22, 2013 (AFP, Emmanuel Dunand)

GENEVA — As potentially game-changing as the steam engine or telegraph were in their day, 3D printing could herald a new industrial revolution, experts say.

For the uninitiated, the prospect of printers turning out any object you want at the click of a button may seem like the stuff of science fiction.

But 3D printing is already here, is developing fast, and looks set to leap from the labs and niche industries onto the wider market.

"There are still limits imposed by the technology available today," said Olivier Olmo, operational director of Switzerland's EPFL research institution.

"But I'm certain that within 10 or 20 years, we'll have a kind of revolution in terms of the technology being available to everyone," he said.

The concept's roots lie in fields ranging from standard two-dimensional printing to machine-tooling.

First, a 3D digital design is created either from scratch on a computer or by scanning a real object, before being cut into two-dimensional "slices" which are computer-fed into a printer.

The printer gradually deposits fine layers of material -- such as plastic, carbon or metal -- and builds a physical object.

A visitor looks at a 3D printer at the
 "Inside 3D Printing" event in New York
 on April 22, 2013 (AFP, Emmanuel
Dunand)
The product can be as hard or as flexible as you programme the printer to make it, and even include moving parts rather than being a solid block.

"In theory, anything that we have today can be produced through 3D printing. It may just alter manufacturing as we know it," said Simon Jones, a technology expert at global law firm DLA Piper.

In addition to the potential ecological impact of producing products right where they are needed, Jones said, 3D printing could make small-scale production of objects cheaper, rather than turning out huge numbers which may go to waste.

The uses go beyond easy replication of things that exist already.

"The technology offers possibilities that available manufacturing does not," said Carla van Steenbergen of i.materialise, a Belgium-based service that prints designs for users.

Van Steenbergen pointed to objects such as customised screws for broken bones which match a patient's specific anatomical characteristics and thereby cause less deterioration than the traditional variety.

"It's the kind of thing that traditional technology won't allow. It's the kind of area where the big added value lies, making the impossible become possible," she underlined.

The technology has been around for longer than many would think: the first commercial 3D print technology, known as stereo-lithography, was invented in 1994.

It has taken time to inch into the limelight, however.

"It's honest to say that 3D printing is far from the mainstream, but it's a sign that something is happening," said Tristan Renaud of Prevue-Medical, a company that turns out models from 3D medical imaging data.

His technology chief Erik Ziegler said using online 3D printing services was likely to remain the norm for a while, given printer costs.

Visitors look at a 3D printer at the
 "Inside 3D Printing" event in New York
 on April 22, 2013 (AFP, Emmanuel
 Dunand)
An alternative is provided by "Fablabs" -- short for "fabrication laboratories" -- a concept created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that offers grassroots access to small-scale manufacturing facilities.

But for those tempted by home-output, a handful of 3D printers have hit the consumer market, retailing for around $2,000.

As with computers, the price is expected to fall over time as demand rises and technology advances.

Van Steenbergen said that at the industrial level, 3D printing is not set to take over from classical methods, but rather go hand in hand.

"I think it will affect the manufacturing of some products, but it's never going to replace it," she said.

It also raises a raft of questions.

For example, would a car manufacturer be ready to let a neighbourhood mechanic print spare parts? And if such goods were produced under licence, what quality guarantees would be offered to consumers?

On the intellectual property front, what constitutes fair production of a replacement part for something you already own? And would designers of 3D objects be protected from an equivalent of file-sharing, bemoaned by the music industry?

"We'd tend to see an increase in commercial impact," said Jones. "It would be very difficult to prevent that once 3D technology got to a cost point that's sensible."

Francis Gurry, head of the UN's World Intellectual Property Organisation, underlined that the global 3D printing business is forecast to be worth $3.7 billion by 2015.

In contrast, world merchandise exports were worth $18.3 trillion last year, and commercial services, $4.3 trillion.

Despite remaining small in global terms, Gurry noted, the value of 3D printing is expected to expand relatively fast, to $6.5 billion by 2019.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Dutchman arrested over huge web attack

BBC News, 26 April 2013

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Spamhaus runs lists that log
 sources of junk mail and other
malicious messages
Spanish police have arrested a Dutchman suspected of being behind one of the biggest ever web attacks.

The 35 year-old-man was detained in Barcelona following a request from the Dutch public prosecutor.

The attack bombarded the websites of anti-junk mail outfit Spamhaus with huge amounts of data in an attempt to knock them offline.

It also slowed data flows over closely linked networks and led to a massive police investigation.

The man arrested is believed to be Sven Kamphuis, the owner and manager of Dutch hosting firm Cyberbunker that has been implicated in the attack.

"Spamhaus is delighted at the news that an individual has been arrested and is grateful to the Dutch police for the resources they have made available and the way they have worked with us," said a Spamhaus spokesman.

He added: "Spamhaus remains concerned about the way network resources are being exploited as they were in this incident due to the failure of network providers to implement best practice in security."

Spamhaus servers were hit with a huge amount of data via an attack technique known as a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. This attempts to overwhelm a web server by sending it many more requests for data than it can handle.

A typical DDoS attack employs about 50 gigabits of data every second (gbps). At its peak the attack on Spamhaus hit 300 gbps.

Cyberbunker is thought to have kicked off the attack in late March after Spamhaus blocked some servers hosted by the Dutch firm. Cyberbunker bills itself as a firm that will host anything but child pornography and terrorism material.

Non-profit Spamhaus maintains what are known as "block lists" which many organisations use to spot sources of spam and other junk mail to stop them clogging mail servers and inboxes with unwanted messages.

Mr Kamphuis took exception to Spamhaus's action saying in messages sent to the press that it had no right to decide "what goes and does not go on the internet".

In a statement, the Dutch public prosecutor said the Dutchman, who it only identifies as "SK", was "suspected of unprecedented heavy attacks" on Spamhaus. The house where SK was stayed was searched at the time of his arrest and Spanish police confiscated computers, phones and hard drives.

It said it expected SK to be transferred to the Netherlands very soon. A spokesman for the Dutch police said they were co-operating with British and American authorities on the investigation into the attack.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

German government warns Telekom on net neutrality

Deutsche Welle, 24 April 2013


Deutsche Telekom’s planned data volume limits on flat rate Internet plans has encountered criticism from the German government. Critics fear the new plan threatens net neutrality.

The German telecommunications giant announced this week that starting in May it will reduce the speed of Internet services for its "flat rate" customers when a certain amount of data has been consumed. Such bandwidth caps, comparatively common in the US but not in Europe, are more commonly found on mobile Internet deals.

However, the company would exclude its in-house broadband television and film service Entertain in the consumption of the consumer's data quota.

This means that if a customer streams entertainment through Entertain, the resulting traffic will not count against the customer's overall data volume. In turn, different streaming providers would eat up the consumer's bandwidth.

Critics have said this plan distorts competition and also attacks network neutrality - the concept that Internet service providers and governments should treat all online data equally. Now, the German government has intervened.

Economic Minister Philipp Rösler voiced concern in a letter to Telekom's CEO Rene Obermann on Wednesday, a copy of which Spiegel Online obtained.

In the letter, Rösler warned of possible restrictions for "flat rate" customers. He said Federal government and consumer protection authorities would "follow very carefully further developments in relation to the varying treatment of Telekom's own services, and that of others, in terms of network neutrality."

Federal Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner also criticized the new policy in an interview with Spiegel Online. "At first glance, progress for the customer can not be seen," she said. "Limiting flat rates is certainly not consumer-friendly," the Bavarian conservative CSU minister said.

A spokesman for Telekom responded Wednesday by saying the alternative to the plan would have been to increase the flat-rate prices for all customers. He said only customers that use more than the average high-speed Internet will be affected, "which we find to be a fair solution."

Telekom said they share the objectives of the Federal government on net neutrality. "Telekom stands for a free and open Internet. Net neutrality is partly confused in the debate with a free Internet culture," the spokesman said.

hc/msh (Reuters, AFP dpa)
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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Earth Day 2013 celebrated with Google doodle

Google marks environmental awareness day with interactive scene depicting the water cycle – and a cheeky badger

guardian.co.uk, Adam Vaughan, 22 April 2013

Google doodle Earth day 2013. Photograph: Google

Earth Day is 43 years' old today, a milestone marked by one of Google's annual doodles dedicated to the event. The day of environmental awareness has been marked by a Google doodle for as long as I can remember, from melting polar ice in 2007 (a prophetic nod to the record Arctic melt that year), rocks in 2008, a waterfall and marine life in 2009 to parrots in 2010, pandas in 2011 and animated flowers in 2012.

This year's somewhat pastoral scene of hills, snow-capped mountains and a lake teeming with fish seems to be making a nod to the hydrological cycle, if I'm not over-interpreting the animation. If you click the clouds, for example, it rains, and there appears to be a spot of percolation with water making its way through the soil.

There are a pair of bears in a cave and, if you click the hole near the front, a badger pops out – is this Google's pre-emptive strike against the government's plan to resume its delayed badger cull this summer in a bid to tackle bovine TB? Probably not, but it's cute nonetheless.

Google's no stranger to environmental efforts, of course. It's funded a stack of renewable energy projects - though in 2011 it quietly shelved one effort, RE<C, which hoped to see renewable energy become cheaper than coal - and in 2011 the internet giant published its carbon footprint for the first time. Turns out it's the equivalent of the United Nations, or a little higher than the emissions of Laos.

Earth Day, born in the US in 1970, was the creation in large part of Gaylord Nelson, a US senator and Democrat, who died in 2005. It is designed to "[activate] individuals and organizations to strengthen the collective fight against man's exploitive relationship with the planet." Denis Hayes, the national coordinator of that first day, said a few years back that he thought the day had achieved many of its aims.

"Beyond any doubt," he said in 2009, "today the basic core values are vastly more 'green,' if you will, than they were in the 60's and 70's." But with a recent global poll showing that public concern over environmental problems such as climate change and biodiversity loss is its lowest in 20 years, it's clear that there's still a need for Earth Day.

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

HTC's Cher Wang to give 100,000 tablets to women in Asia-Pacific

Want China Times, CNA 2013-04-21

HTC chairwoman Cher Wang. (Photo/Chen Chih-yuan)

HTC chairwoman Cher Wang announced an initiative at a World Bank roundtable on Thursday to donate 100,000 HTC tablets to young women in Asia-Pacific countries.

"My commitment is to give HTC tablets to 100,000 young women in the Asia-Pacific region to empower them to define a greater role for themselves," Wang said at the discussion on the Equal Futures Partnership, which is dedicated to promoting women's rights.

Tablets have equipped a very powerful learning platform that emphasizes science and technology, she said.

"I strongly believe there should be a much greater role in technology for women, not only as users but also as innovators, business owners and industry leaders," Wang said.

Noting that technology has revolutionized the way people live and will continue to bring prosperity to the world, Wang said she was also very excited by the greater access to education brought by technology.

"Technology has created a powerful learning platform... connected mobile devices can now bring the best teachers in the world to anyone anywhere," Wang said.

Wang said she believed that if the potential of hundreds of millions of women who are now denied quality education or any education of any kind could be harnessed, the world would be much better off.

She also recalled founding HTC to create a computer so small that it could be carried in a pocket and said she was now setting her sights elsewhere.

"The dream has come true and now my next dream is to make the world a more equal place for women," Wang said.

Citing a Chinese philosopher, Wang said a journey of 1,000 miles must begin with a single step. "My hope is that those young women (who get HTC tablets) will be empowered to define a greater role for themselves and millions more will be empowered to the path of a more prosperous future," Wang said.

HTC, Taiwan's leading smartphone maker, was the only Asian private business invited to attend the forum sponsored by the World Bank at its headquarters in Washington DC.

Most of the other participants represented Equal Futures Partnership member countries, including Denmark, Mexico, Morocco, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Croatia, Norway and Benin.

The roundtable focused on how to expand economic opportunities and political participation for women and girls in Equal Futures Partnership member countries.

Wang's commitment to donating tablets drew applause from other participants at the meeting, including World Bank chairman Jim Yong Kim, US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and senior officials and financial experts from many other countries.

Wang, who concurrently serves as chairwoman of the ABAC Women's Forum, said it was the first time she had been invited to attend a forum held by the World Bank.

Given its diplomatic isolation, Taiwan should take part in as many international activities as possible, she said.

A booth displaying HTC's new products, including smartphones and tablets, was set up at the World Bank roundtable venue, drawing many visitors.

Wang has also been invited to attend an Equal Futures Partnership- related roundtable discussion to be held at the White House on Friday.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Expanding options for companies to buy renewable energy: Google

Google Blog, Friday, April 19, 2013   

We’re always looking for ways to expand the use of renewable energy. To date we’ve committed more than $1 billion to renewable energy project investments, signed agreements to procure wind power near our data centers, and installed solar panels at our corporate headquarters.

It’s also important to work directly with our utility partners to find solutions that will make more renewable energy available for us and for others. The most straightforward way to do this is for utilities to offer a renewable power option for companies that request it—something that’s not currently offered by most utilities. We’ve just published a white paper (PDF) laying out our thoughts on how and why such programs might work.

We’re also announcing our first effort to put this idea into practice. We’re expanding our Lenoir, N.C. data center, and our local electricity provider, Duke Energy, has pledged to develop a new program for large companies like Google who want to buy renewable power for their operations. Duke will file the plan with their state commission within 90 days.

Our Lenoir, N.C. data center

Offering companies like Google a renewable energy option has many advantages. Because the service is made available to a wide range of customers, companies that don’t have the ability or resources to pursue alternative approaches can participate. And by tapping utilities’ strengths in power generation and delivery, it makes it easier for companies to buy renewable energy on a larger scale. Of course, the approach is not without its challenges: utilities will need to work out the mechanics of the service within their local regulatory structure, and in many cases state utility commissions will need to approve the programs. There’s also the challenge of finding cost-effective renewable projects.

We'll continue to find creative ways to supply our facilities with renewable energy, but we think this solution can provide an important new way to increase the use of renewable energy nationwide. We look forward to working with utilities, state utility commissions, companies and other stakeholders to make it a reality.

Posted by Gary Demasi, Director, Global Infrastructure


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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Super-powered battery breakthrough claimed by US team

BBC News, Leo Kelion, Technology reporter, 17 April 2013

Related Stories
Researchers claim their technology
could shrink the size of batteries by
10 times while offering the same power
A new type of battery has been developed which its creators say could revolutionise the way we power consumer electronics and vehicles.

The University of Illinois team says its use of 3D-electrodes allows it to build "microbatteries" that are many times smaller than commercially available options, or the same size and many times more powerful.

It adds they can be recharged 1,000 times faster than competing tech.

However, safety issues still remain.

Details of the research are published in the journal Nature Communications.

Battery breakthrough

The researchers said their innovation should help address the issue that while smartphones and other gadgets have benefited from miniaturised electronics, battery advances have failed to pace.

Batteries work by having two components - called electrodes - where chemical reactions occur.

In simple terms, the anode is the electrode which releases electrons as a result of a chemical reaction.

The cathode is the electrode on the other side of the battery to which the electrons want to flow and be absorbed - but a third element, the electrolyte, blocks them from travelling directly.

When the battery is plugged into a device the electrons can flow through its circuits making the journey from one electrode to the other.

The scientists' "breakthrough" involved finding a new way to integrate the anode and cathode at the microscale.

"The battery electrodes have small intertwined fingers that reach into each other," project leader Prof William King told the BBC.

"That does a couple of things. It allows us to make the battery have a very high surface area even though the overall battery volume is extremely small.


A cross-section of the battery reveals
the 3D-design of the research project's
anodes and cathodes
"And it gets the two halves of the battery very close together so the ions and electrons do not have far to flow.

"Because we're reduced the flowing distance of the ions and electrons we can get the energy out much faster."

Repeatable technique

The battery cells were fabricated by adapting a process developed by another team at the university which is designed to make it faster to recharge the batteries than lithium ion (Li-on) and nickel metal hydride (NiMH) equivalents.

It involves creating a lattice made out of tiny polystyrene spheres and then filling the space in and around the structure with metal.

The spheres are then dissolved to leave a 3D-metal scaffold onto which a nickel-tin alloy is added to form the anode, and a mineral called manganese oxyhydroxide to form the cathode.

Finally the glass surface onto which the apparatus was attached was immersed into a chemical liquid heated to 300C (572F).

"Today we're making small numbers of these things in a boutique fabrication process, but while that's reliable and we can repeat it we need to be able to make large numbers of these things over large areas," said Prof King.

"But in principle our technology is scaleable all the way up to electronics and vehicles.

"You could replace your car battery with one of our batteries and it would be 10 times smaller, or 10 times more powerful. With that in mind you could jumpstart a car with the battery in your cell phone."

Safety fear

Other battery experts welcomed the teams efforts but said it could prove hard to bring the technology to market.

"The challenge is to make a microbattery array that is robust enough and that does not have a single short circuit in the whole array via a process that can be scaled up cheaply," said Prof Clare Grey from the University of Cambridge's chemistry department.

University of Oxford's Prof Peter Edwards - an expert in inorganic chemistry and energy - also expressed doubts.

"This is a very exciting development which demonstrates that high power densities are achievable by such innovations," he said.

"The challenges are: scaling this up to manufacturing levels; developing a simpler fabrication route; and addressing safety issues.

"I'd want to know if these microbatteries would be more prone to the self-combustion issues that plagued lithium-cobalt oxide batteries which we've seen become an issue of concern with Boeing's Dreamliner jets."

Prof William King hopes to use the
 microbattery to power electronic
equipment before the end of the year
Prof King acknowledged that safety was an issue due to the fact the current electrolyte was a combustible liquid.

He said that in the test equipment only a microscopic amount of the liquid was used, making the risk of an explosion negligible - but if it were scaled up to large sizes the danger could become "significant".

However, he added that he soon planned to switch to a safer polymer-based electrolyte to address the issue.

Prof King added that he hoped to have the technology ready to be trialled as a power source for electronic equipment before the end of the year.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign team is one of several groups attempting to overhaul the way we power gadgets.

Researchers in Texas are working on a kind of battery that can be spray-painted onto any surface while engineers at the University of Bedfordshire are exploring the idea of using radio waves as an energy source.


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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Samsung probed in Taiwan over 'fake web reviews'

BBC News, 16 April 2013

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Bad reviews of HTC products were
 allegedly posted by students paid by
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Fair-trade officials in Taiwan are looking into reports that Samsung paid people to criticise rival HTC online.

Samsung is alleged to have hired students to post negative comments about phones made by Taiwan's HTC.

Samsung, based in South Korea, said the "unfortunate incident" had gone against the company's "fundamental principles".

If found guilty of engaging in "false advertising", Samsung and its local agent could face fines of up to of 25m Taiwanese dollars (£547,000).

Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission had begun an investigation after receiving a series of complaints, a spokesman told the AFP news agency.

A local website had published documents appearing to show Samsung had been recruiting students to criticise HTC and praise Samsung anonymously on the web, reported PC Advisor.

Samsung Taiwan said it had not been told about the investigation, however the subsidiary put a statement on its local Facebook page saying it had "ceased all marketing activities that involve the posting of anonymous comments".

It said all future marketing work would be more in line with its company philosophy of transparency and honesty.

"The recent incident was unfortunate, and occurred due to insufficient understanding of these fundamental principles," it said, adding that it was planning training for employees to ensure events were not repeated.

In early 2013, Samsung was fined by Taiwanese authorities for an advert that misled consumers about the camera on the Galaxy Y Duo.

3D-printed canal home takes shape in Amsterdam

BBC News, Colin Grant, 15 April 2013

The architects intend to use the house as an education centre to help promote
3D printing

Related Stories

It sounds like the ultimate do-it-yourself project: the print-your-own-home.

In place of bricks and mortar and the need for a construction crew, a customisable building plan which transforms itself from computer screen graphics into a real-world abode thanks to the latest in 3D printing technology.

That dream is still beyond our reach, but several teams of architects across the globe are engaged in efforts to take a major step towards it by creating the world's first 3D-printed homes.

Amsterdam-based Dus Architects is one of the firms involved - it plans to print a canal house in the Dutch capital.

It's worth taking a moment to reflect on that premise; the machine will not modestly 3D-print the usual cup, curtain ring or piece of jewellery, but an actual building.

Objects are created by printing thin
 layers of the construction materials
on top of each other
The printer that will make this possible - the KamerMaker - is a marvel in itself. The name translates from Dutch as "room-maker".

With a shiny metallic exterior, built from the carcass of a shipping container, it is 6m (19ft 8in) tall and would easily fill the average sitting room.

Using different types of plastics and wood fibres, the device takes computer-drawn plans and uses them to make first the building's exterior walls, then the ceilings and other parts of individual rooms and then finally its furniture.

The pieces will be assembled on site like a huge jigsaw with parts attached to each other thanks to some of their edges having being shaped like giant Lego pieces, and the use of steel cabling to "sew" the elements together.

Each part is created using a layer-by-layer process in which solid objects take shape by printing thin "slices" of the construction materials, one level at a time, which bind together.

When I interviewed the architects involved - Hedwig Heinsman and Hans Vermeulen - for the BBC World Service's Click - I was able to stand comfortably with them inside the machine.

Looking across I could see the device's huge print head was connected to a flexible tube running down from the ceiling through which it could pour the heated plasticised material that will ultimately form the house's structure.

As with its smaller counterparts, the print head moves firstly horizontally and then vertically building up salami slices of the 3D object.

The enormous contraption will be able to fabricate individual life-sized rooms in one print session.

One of the house's window frames was
among the first parts to be printed
I was shown a rosette window frame that had recently been "printed'" as a demonstration.

The young architects were visibly excited. Architecture is normally a slow and painstaking discipline. After graduation their first conventional building, from commission to execution, was six years in the making. This 3D project should be concluded in a fraction of that time.

By the end of this year the fully printed facade of the building will be erected, though it will be several more years before the project is completed.

"We are makers at heart and a 3D printer offers us a DIY kit," says Ms Heinsman.

Mr Vermeulen adds he believes his industry is "at the forefront of new industrial revolution".

Their firm has formed a collective that includes designers and computer scientists who are sharing their expertise and drawing on open-source computer tools to build this canal house.

The 3D printer stands like a work of modern sculpture on a grassy patch outside the collective's slightly raffish offices.

It's not just that it would it be too big to fit inside their offices, the team wants the public to be able to see the virtuosity of this 3D printer in action.

They also have a more regular-sized 3D printer inside their offices which is used to build doll's house-sized architectural models of the canal house on a scale of 1:20. Critically, the instructions for building these small versions are from the same computer files that the architects have designed for the actual house.

The canal house will be built over time from the bottom up.

Ms Heinsman says you might notice a change in the aesthetic of the building as your eyes travel up it.

1:20 scale models were built from the computer
blueprints to help optimise the design
"The top part of the facade will be the most beautifully ornamented because by then we will have perfected our knowledge of how the printer works," she explains.

It is unlikely that the finished KamerMaker 3D-printed house will be built as cheaply as conventional canal houses which are mass-produced by developers. But the architects are treating it as an experiment which provides a proof of concept and proof of the unbound limits of 3D printing.

It may seem like science fiction or the kind of fantastical vanity project expected of a millionaire, but this is really a visionary concept of idealistic but level-headed architects operating with modest budgets, whose focus is on social housing.

Developers may not be quaking in their boots just now but 3D printing has the potential to disrupt construction and the very look of our towns and cities.


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A handout computer generated image shows a house designed by Dutch
architecture practice Universe Architecture on January 14, 2013. 
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