Friday, November 8, 2019

Colorado to Make the Move to Digital State IDs, Mostly

Coloradans  will be able to show proof of identification via their smartphones to  businesses and state agencies moving forward following the statewide  launch of a digital ID. Although law enforcement still can require a  physical copy of citizens’ IDs. Colorado Governor has announced the  Colorado Digital ID in the myColorado mobile app, the state’s official  mobile app. The Digital ID enables Coloradans to create an electronic  version of their Colorado driver’s license or state identification card,  and can be displayed on smartphones for proof of identification, age,  and address in Colorado, according to a media release sent out by  Governors’ office. The digital ID is a secure visual representation of  what has traditionally been the legally accepted official physical  format of a person’s identification. (GovTech)

NC Lawmakers Pass Bill Supporting Right to Revoke Consent

State  lawmakers have voted unanimously to close legal loopholes related to  consent and sexual assault. The loopholes made North Carolina one of the  few states in the country where cases of rape that initially began with  consent, or that involved voluntary use of alcohol or drugs, could not  be prosecuted. According to court data, among the approximately 1,000  people charged with sexual assault within that 4.5 year time frame, just  2% were convicted. Gov. Roy Cooper is expected to sign SB 199 into law.  The communications director with the National Sexual Violence Resource  Center, said even in the “Me-Too era,” there’s a gap in the  public understanding of what consent means because issues surrounding  sexual consent are not typically taught in schools or through other  types of training. (Public News Service)

Georgia Legislator Seeks to Prohibit Sex-Reassignment Surgery on Minors

A  state lawmaker in Georgia wants to make it a felony for medical doctors  to perform sex-reassignment surgery on minor children, including  vasectomy, castration, mastectomy, and other varieties of genital  mutilation, and forbid the prescription of puberty-blocking drugs and  cross-sex hormone therapy in such cases. Georgia state Representative  Ginny Ehrhart said her legislation would protect children from being  subjected to irreversible procedures when they are young, but would have  no effect on physicians working with adults who seek a sex change.  Georgia law currently allows minors to receive surgery and prescription  medicine if a parent consents. The final language in the bill, which is  still being drafted, may punish parents for permitting a child to  undergo a gender transition. The legislative proposal comes as a sequel  to a highly publicized legal battle in Texas over a 7-year-old boy whose  mother claims he identifies as a girl and prefers being called Luna.  While the mother wants him to begin hormone replacement theory, the  father objects and sought to obtain sole custody of the boy and his twin  brother. A judge awarded the father and the mother joint custody on  October 24. (Epoch Times)

Lead in some Canadian water worse than Flint

Hundreds  of thousands of Canadians have been unwittingly exposed to high levels  of lead in their drinking water, with contamination in several cities  consistently higher than they ever were in Flint, Michigan, according to  an investigation that tested drinking water in hundreds of homes and  reviewed thousands more previously undisclosed results. Residents in  some homes in Montreal and Regina are among those drinking and cooking  with tap water with lead levels that exceed Canada’s federal guidelines.  The investigation found some schools and day care centers had lead  levels so high that researchers noted it could impact children’s health.  In a country that touts its clean, natural turquoise lakes, sparkling  springs and rushing rivers, there are no national mandates to test  drinking water for lead. And even if agencies do take a sample,  residents are rarely informed of contamination. Canadian officials where  levels were high said they were aware that lead pipes can contaminate  drinking water and that they were working to replace aging  infrastructure. The media consortium filed more than 700 Freedom of  Information requests and took hundreds of samples in people’s homes to  collect more than 79,000 water test results. But the findings are  neither comprehensive nor an indication of overall drinking water  quality in Canada. (AP News)

Microsoft Japan Says a 4-Day Workweek Boosted Workers’ Productivity By 40%

Workers  at Microsoft Japan enjoyed an enviable perk this summer: working four  days a week, enjoying a three-day weekend, all while getting their  normal, five-day paycheck. The result, the company says, was a  productivity boost of 40%. Microsoft Japan says it became more efficient  in several areas, including lower electricity costs, which fell by 23%.  And as its workers took five Fridays off in August, they printed nearly  60 percent fewer pages. All of the employees who took Fridays off were  given special paid leave, the company says. Encouraged by the results,  it plans to hold a similar trial in the winter. Because of the shorter  workweek, the company also put its meetings on a diet. The standard  duration for a meeting was slashed from 60 minutes to 30 — an approach  that was adopted for nearly half of all meetings. In a related cut,  standard attendance at those sessions was capped at five employees. In  the U.S., researchers sees schedule flexibility and a four-day week as  two ways for employers to ease what he calls an ongoing burnout crisis.  Faced with decades of stagnant wage growth, it seems that many workers  are now seeking more flexibility — and dreaming of a shorter workweek. (NPR)

Apple Pledges $2.5 Billion To Combat California’s Housing Crisis

Apple  is pledging $2.5 billion to confront California’s housing crisis, in a  bid to help the state ease a situation that’s been blamed for  marginalizing people in service and support jobs and creating a spike in  homelessness. The announcement comes as California grapples with how to  keep pace with growing demand that the state must build more than 3  million homes by 2025. Apple’s plan includes $1 billion to create a  mortgage assistance fund for first-time homebuyers, and another $1  billion that will be an open line of credit to support building “very low- to moderate-income housing,”  the company said. People who want to own or rent a home in California  increasingly face tight supply in high-demand areas. While the crisis  has a wide reach, the struggle to find new housing at an affordable  price is even more daunting for the millions of people who haven’t  benefited from the tech boom that has made some into billionaires. The  result is that in a state famous for nurturing innovative ideas in  garages, a number of people have been living in their vehicles because  of the high cost of rent — including some lower-paid tech workers.  Communities from Los Angeles to the Bay Area have been criticized for  banning or restricting people’s ability to live in automobiles and RVs. (Apple)

Breathalyzers not fully reliable?

An  investigation reveals that breathalyzers may not be as accurate as  previously thought, with some test results as much as 40% too high due  to machines being configured incorrectly or stored inaccurately. The  tests check to determine if a driver scores 0.08 or higher is alleged to  be intoxicated at the wheel. However, they are becoming more frequently  invalidated by judges across the country. In Massachusetts and New York  alone, judges have thrown out 30,000 in the last year due to “human errors and lax governmental oversight.” (New York Times)

This 14-Year-Old Science Fair Winner Just Solved Blind Spots

Over  840,000 of the car crashes that occur on U.S. roadways each year can be  traced back to a problem area all drivers can relate to: the blind  spots caused by the A-frame of the car’s structure. There’s still no  perfect fix for blind spots that the auto industry has uniformly  accepted, but that might be about to change thanks to an ingenious  solution from a 14-year-old from West Grove, Pennsylvania, who has  designed a technology that makes the A-frame pillars of a car “see-through”  by using projectors that cast images of what’s really behind them onto  their surfaces. It’s not just a fix for the rear blind spots, but also a  solution for the front. If a pedestrian is crossing the street in front  of your vehicle, her invention makes it so that you can see live  footage of the person crossing the street through the A-frame with  cameras, making them sort of “ghost pillars”. She engineered  the projector-based technology as part of the Society for Science and  the Public’s Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology, and  Engineering for Rising Stars) science and engineering competition, took  home a grand prize of $25,000 for her invention, which she completed  while in eighth grade. (Popular Mechanics)


How much would you spend on a toilet?

A  lavish gold toilet featuring a bullet-proof seat studded with more than  40,000 diamonds has been spotted at a trade fair in Shanghai. The  luxurious lavatory is worth $1,288,677, according to its manufacturer  from Hong Kong. The gold-plated throne is produced by Coronet, a brand  owned by Hong Kong jewellery firm Aaron Shum. According to the jeweler,  the seat of the swanky toilet is made of bullet-proof glass and embedded  with 40,815 diamonds, which weigh 334.68 carats in total. The founder  of the brand declined to reveal if his product had attracted any  potential buyers. He also admitted that he was actually unwilling to  sell it. The manufacturer is currently attempting a Guinness World  Record for the posh loo under the category of the most diamonds set in a  toilet. If the application is successful, it would be his 10th Guinness  World Record with his jewellery piece. (Daily Mail)

What do Amazon Alexa, Google Voice and Apple Siri all have in common? They can all be hacked by a laser

That’s  according to researchers who have discovered that when a laser is aimed  at the devices’ microphones, an electrical signal is created, just as  it is when a voice command is made. Using an oscilloscope, the academics  found they could make it so the microphone created the same signal when  receiving light as it did with sound. In doing so they effectively  mimicked a voice with a laser beam. These “light commands” can  be made with cheap easy tech, even a classic laser pointer. And the  commands can be tweaked to make Amazon, Google and Apple voice-operated  tech carry out actions, such as opening doors, making online purchases  or turning lights on and off. The attacks could even be used to unlock  and start certain vehicles, the academics claimed. As long as there  aren’t any objects blocking the laser, the attacks can work from long  distances, from one building to another, for instance. Windows won’t  make a difference. The researchers, from the University of  Electro-Communications in Tokyo and the University of Michigan, were  able to show off a light command asking Google Home what time it is from  up to 110 meters away. Outside of Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple  iPhones, the researchers also tested successful attacks on Facebook  Portal Mini, Amazon’s Fire Cube TV, a Samsung Galaxy S9 and a Google  Pixel 2. So what can users do? The most obvious defense is to remove  your Amazon Echo, Google Home or whatever comparable tech you have from  line of sight, said professor Alan Woodward, a security expert from the  University of Surrey. Turning on speaker recognition features could also  help to limit access to only legitimate users, who’ve registered their  voices with the device. There’s one more possible cause for concern: The  research was funded by the Pentagon’s research arm, the Defense  Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It’s feasible then that such  attacks could be a feature of powerful surveillance tools. (Forbes)

A startup shipped a dozen bottles of fine French wine to the International Space Station

The  vino, individually bottled in metal canisters to prevent breakage, was  launched from Virginia and arrived in outer space earlier this week. The  wine will spend a year in orbit before being brought back to Earth and  astronauts won’t get to enjoy a single drop, as the purpose of its  journey is not no-gravity inebriation, but science. Researchers will  study the impact of space radiation and weightlessness on the wine’s  aging process. Luxembourg,  Virginia-based startup Space Cargo Unlimited hopes to develop new  flavors based on the project’s findings. Universities in Bordeaux and  Bavaria are also taking part in the company’s “once-in-a-lifetime adventure,”  the CEO and co-founder said in a statement. Upon returning to Earth,  the space-aged wine will be compared to a Bordeaux aged here. A company  spokeswoman told the outlet that any leftovers will be poured for the  people who funded the research. The space capsule used to ship the wine  also contained a small electric oven. Space Cargo has five other space  missions planned for the next three years — all with aims to study  out-of-orbit agriculture — but this isn’t the first time wine has wound  up in space. In 1985, a French astronaut took a bottle aboard the  shuttle Discovery. The bottle, however, remained corked while in orbit.  In other food and beverage space firsts this year, Israeli and Russian  scientists grew “Frankenstein” meat aboard the International Space Station, and NASA is looking to grow peppers beyond Earth’s bounds. (AP News)

More money woes for millennial’s

The generational wealth gap has reached “historic proportions,”  with millennial’s earning 20% less than baby boomers did at the same  stage in life, according to a new report. Fallout from the Great  Recession and the rise of contract and freelance work have resulted in  less consistent hours and pay for young workers, despite being more  educated than older generations. That’s causing many younger workers to  face long-term challenges accumulating wealth through savings or  property. (New America)

Finally Feel Good Again With Friday Because It Has:

  • Abet and Aid Punsters Day
  • Cook Something Bold and Pungent Day
  • Dunce Day
  • Intersex Day of Remembrance
  • National Parents As Teachers Day
  • National S.T.E.M./S.T.E.A.M. Day
  • Shakespeare Authorship Mystery Day
  • X-ray Day

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