Telstra to guarantee service on key Asia internet routes


Via Financial Review : Telstra to guarantee service on key Asia internet routes Telstra is combining three undersea cable systems to ensure its customers throughout Asia are not left stranded without reliable internet connections due to damage caused by natural disasters and ships. Natural disasters, such as the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, typhoons around Taiwan and the Philippines, can and have damaged undersea fibre-optic cables, which carry 97 per cent of the world’s phone and internet traffic. Telstra director of emerging markets Paul Abfalter told The Australian Financial Review the new ‘Always On’ guarantee, which the telecommunications provider will announce on Monday at the Pacific Telecommunications Council conference in Hawaii, will allow its customers who need to use some of Asia’s busiest routes, such as Hong Kong to Singapore and Japan to Hong Kong, a cheaper alternative to paying for two systems, one as primary and the other as a back-up. “If you’re a Google, Netflix, Facebook, a carrier or a low-latency financial services provider, you need your service up 24/7,” Mr Abfalter said. Damage to undersea cables can have an impact on internet connections, upload and download speeds and latency that can affect transactions, high-frequency trading, real-time communications and video games among others. For example, Australian internet users in December 2014 were hit with slow connections after damage to a cable between Perth and Singapore, which was thought to be caused by an earthquake or a ship’s anchor. Damage to an undersea cable in the Arabian Sea in… Read more

Custodians of cost: Omnium execs survey the Mideast QS scene


Via ME Construction News : Custodians of cost: Omnium execs survey the Mideast QS scene As is evident to anyone in the industry, quantity surveying is a vital function and the QS is a key and integral member of any construction team. Broadly speaking, professional quantity surveyors manage inter alia, all costs relating to building and civil engineering projects, from the initial estimates, projections and calculations to the final account. They seek to minimise and optimise the expenditure on a project, exercising due diligence on expenditures, provide oversight and deliver value-for-money services, while attaining the required standards and expected quality. Omnium International acquired prominence as the mega-tall building experts in the QS industry due to its involvement with some of the biggest and tallest landmark buildings in the region. These include the Burj Khalifa (currently the tallest building in the world); the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah (aiming to outdo the Burj Khalifa when completed) and most recently The Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour, which is set to surpass the Burj Khalifa when completed in 2020. When The Tower is commissioned, Omnium will be the only QS firm to have worked on three out of the four mega-tall buildings in the Middle East and among the top nine in the world. “Our master-planning portfolio is very impressive and our firm has been extensively involved in the building of modern Dubai. We have been Quantity Surveyors for the construction of much of Downtown Dubai and the associated infrastructure works, the Dubai Marina, Arabian Ranches,… Read more

Rapid Transit System to boost Johor property market


Via Property Guru : Rapid Transit System to boost Johor property market The Rapid Transit System will link the Woodlands North station on the Thomson-East Coast Line to Johor’s Bukit Chagar. Analysts expect interest in Johor Bahru properties to increase with news that Malaysia and Singapore may sign a bilateral agreement for the Rapid Transit System (RTS) in 2017, reported Channel NewsAsia. Peter Ezekiel, who travels across the causeway daily for work, welcomed the news. The 46-year-old lawyer opted to rent a Johor Bahru house while waiting for the completion of his new flat in Singapore. While renting a home in Johor Bahru is cheaper, Ezekiel has had to contend with traffic congestion daily. He may, however, continue renting or even purchase a property in Johor in the future now that Singapore and Malaysia are moving ahead with the RTS. “I’m looking at safety, convenience and the proximity to Singapore. These three factors are to me, of course comfort – you want a certain. These are the three to four factors that I have in mind when I’m looking at a rental property. However if I’m looking for an investment to buy, then I’ll be looking at potential capital gains,” he said. But the relative weakness of the Malaysian Rinngit has been holding him back from buying a property, despite the expected improvement in transport links. Promising an easier time crossing the border, the RTS will link the Woodlands North station on the Thomson-East Coast Line to Johor’s Bukit Chagar. Analysts… Read more

Syed Faraz Hasan: The dawn of 5G telecommunications


Via NZ Herald : Syed Faraz Hasan: The dawn of 5G telecommunications Improvements in mobile phone technology are obvious when you look back to the brick-sized phones of the early 1990s, but the underlying network that sends data to and from the mobile phones has also evolved over the years, largely unnoticed. Our current mobile phone network is in its fourth generation (4G). The transition from the earliest version (or 1G) to the current version has been primarily driven by an ever-increasing demand for faster data transfer speeds. Our perpetual thirst for greater network speed and capacity, to run ever-more complicated applications, means telecommunication giants are now feverishly working on 5G, or the fifth-generation of wireless broadband technology. The interesting thing about 5G is that everybody knows “what” it will deliver but nobody knows “how” in practical terms. Many nations across the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom, South Korea and Japan, have announced ambitious plans for the roll-out of 5G, some starting as early as 2018. Faster speeds, but how will it be delivered? So what can we expect from 5G? Well, two things are certain. it will bring unprecedented network speeds, 1000 times faster than 4G, according to Huawei, and it will provide wireless connectivity to the billions of devices that are expected to emerge by 2020. The distinguishing feature of 5G technology will be its very high transmission frequency to offer increased network speed. In a typical 5G network, data will travel at 28 or 38… Read more

China’s new $360B renewable energy plan: Will it stop ‘Airpocaloypse?’


Via The Christian Science Monitor : China’s new $360B renewable energy plan: Will it stop ‘Airpocaloypse?’ Beijing’s plan to boost solar and wind energy could create more than 13 million jobs in the renewable energy sector over the next three years. Is it enough to curb the pollution? Chinese officials rolled out a detailed plan this week signaling a major commitment to renewable energy, even as some Chinese cities experienced historic levels of smog pollution. Air pollution was so bad that 32 cities in China received the most severe pollution warning, while Beijing and 26 other cities were placed under the second severe smog tier, NBC News reports. Some media outlets dubbed it “Airpocaloypse” In the same week, the government’s energy agency said the country plans to spend at least $360 billion on renewable energy sources such as solar and wind by 2020, indicating a transition away from fossil fuels. The challenge for Beijing is balancing economic growth (largely still driven by fossil fuel powered factories) with goals for a cleaner environment. The effort seems to be taking place in fits and starts. This most recent smog emergency has prompted government officials to shut down factories and construction, limit the number of cars on the road, and close schools while urging residents to stay indoors and avoid outdoor activities. A time-lapse video taken by Chas Pope last Sunday captured the thick noxious clouds of smog that blanketed Beijing in 20 minutes. A few days before Chinese cities were placed under “red”… Read more

Why Robotics Will Change Agriculture


Via Forbes : Last month as our Mixing Bowl colleagues Michael Rose and An Wang were interviewing Sonny Ranaswamy of the USDA’s NIFA to better understand current US food and agriculture labor issues, we were representing The Mixing Bowl in discussions on potential solutions to food production labor issues through automation and robotics. At this year’s RoboUniverse event in San Diego there was a full-day track on December 14th dedicated to the application of robotics to agriculture. The industry track, pulled together in great part by Nathan Dorn, CEO of Food Origins and an Advisor to The Mixing Bowl, featured a knowledgeable group of automation/robotics experts and food producers who drew on their experience to define the opportunities and sharpen focus on the challenges. Nathan authored a detailed summary of the day in a post on Agfunder. Our conclusion is that there is no denying that we are still in the early days of adoption of robotics in agriculture. So why are we confident things will change? For two reasons: 1. When the money stops the thinking starts. The US dairy market and many other commodity markets, including corn and soy, are insulated from market pricing through government programs that establish a guaranteed floor price for the purchase of their goods. Many of these commodity markets, however, have seen bumper harvests the last couple years so the commodity pricing is sitting on the floor at recent historic lows. Most family-owned and operated dairies in the US that comprise 97% of the… Read more

Can’t decided between electronic or mechanical gimbals? Steadicam Volt is both


Via Digital Trends : Can’t decided between electronic or mechanical gimbals? Steadicam Volt is both The camera stabilizer that made it possible to follow Sylvester Stallone up the steps in Rocky has been reimagined several times over the years — but now, the stabilization system is heading to smartphone video. Tiffen on Wednesday launched the Steadicam Volt on Kickstarter, an electronic gimbal with inspiration from the original Steadicam’s mechanical balancing stabilization system. Unlike most smartphone gimbals, Tiffen says that the Steadicam Volt allows videographers to follow quick action without the lag time of other electronic stabilizers. That’s because the gimbal, while electronic, was inspired from the industry standard Steadicam first developed over 40 years ago. The center of gravity is positioned at the electronic gimbal component, with a balancing arm at the front. While the stabilizer’s inspiration was from heavy Hollywood rigs, the Volt weighs one pound. The stabilizing arm folds down, allowing for more compact storage. Tiffen, who partnered with drone manufacturer Yuneec for the Volt, says that the stabilizer is designed to be simple to use — just mount, power on and start filming. The gimbal accommodates smartphones from 58 to 80mm wide, with or without cases, that weigh up to 200 grams. The Volt will connect with smartphones through Bluetooth, with both an iOS and Android app expected to help control the gimbal’s settings. The electronic component’s battery is expected to last eight hours and Tiffen says the gimbal can still be used manually if the rechargeable battery… Read more

Markforged strike in the quest for affordable metal 3D printing

Via TCT : Back in 2014, Markforged made a splash at Solidworks World by launching a 3D printer capable of embedding carbon fibre into parts for added strength. At CES 2017, it’s back with a machine capable of printing in metal. The Metal X, which Laura got a closer look at on the CES 2017 show floor as you can see above, uses what Markforged is calling Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing (ADAM). Parts are printed using an FDM method that is able to lay down titanium, stainless steel, tool steel, Inconel and aluminium. Not unlike the XJet process, MarkForged says that the parts are printed using metal powders surrounded in a material that is dissolved away during a sintering process, which leaves you with a fully dense metal object. “If you can afford a million dollar metal 3D printer, buy one. For the rest of the world, this is for you.” say Greg Mark Co-Founder and CEO. The Metal X will also inspect your part during its print using in-process laser inspection that is linked to the cloud-based software, Eiger. On the software, which was designed for its latest generation of composite 3D printers the Mark Two, the user can inspect each layer as it is printed to see how the part has been laid down. Although the process of using a largely metal filament that is extruded using a plastic that is then dissolved during sintering is not new. The Virtual Foundry successfully funded its range of filaments called “Filamet”,… Read more

World’s Thinnest Electrical Wires Developed: Just Three Atoms Wide


Via Sci News : World’s Thinnest Electrical Wires Developed: Just Three Atoms Wide The needle-like nanowires have a semiconducting core — a combination of copper and sulfur known as a chalcogenide — surrounded by the attached diamondoids, which form an insulating shell. “Their minuscule size is important because a material that exists in just one or two dimensions – as atomic-scale dots, wires or sheets – can have very different, extraordinary properties compared to the same material made in bulk,” said co-author Dr. Nicholas Melosh, from Stanford University. “What we have shown here is that we can make tiny, conductive wires of the smallest possible size that essentially assemble themselves,” added co-author Dr. Hao Yan, also from Stanford. “The process is a simple, one-pot synthesis. You dump the ingredients together and you can get results in half an hour. It’s almost as if the diamondoids know where they want to go.” The diamondoids the team used as assembly tools are tiny, interlocking cages of carbon and hydrogen. Found naturally in petroleum fluids, they are extracted and separated by size and geometry in a lab. For the study, the scientists took advantage of the fact that diamondoids are strongly attracted to each other, through what are known as van der Waals forces. They started with the smallest possible diamondoids – single cages that contain just 10 carbon atoms – and attached a sulfur atom to each. Floating in a solution, each sulfur atom bonded with a single copper ion. This created the… Read more

Plug-and-play radiator integrates a battery to help lower electric bills


Via Treehugger : Plug-and-play radiator integrates a battery to help lower electric bills The Lancey electric space heater allows users to charge its battery during off-peak hours and use the electricity for heating during peak demand periods. A French startup is approaching home energy storage from a bit different of an angle, and instead of merely functioning as a home battery, its product doubles as a radiator that is said to be able to help reduce heating costs by as much as 50%. The radiator from Lancey Energy Storage is described as a plug-and-play space heater, which means that even though it integrates a lithium battery and can allow users to charge it during times of cheaper electricity, and then use that electricity when grid prices are higher, no additional wiring is necessary to install it, and it can cost up to 75% less than installing a gas heater. And since heating can account for a significant percentage of home energy use (according to Lancey CEO Raphaël Meyer, up to 67% in Europe, whereas the US puts it at about 42% in the United States, and the IEA says that almost 80% of energy demand in the buildings sector is from heating), this represents a great opportunity for both homeowners and rental property owners alike to reduce both their costs and their environmental impact. The Lancey heater, which is said to cost about €1000 when available next year, is a ‘smart’ device controllable via smartphone, but it can also be considered… Read more