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Chuck Schumer reveals “large discount” bill to get drivers into EVs
“It’s designed to rapidly phase-out vehicles and replace them with clean vehicles,” Senator Schumer said today of his bill. That’s aggressive, but the lawmaker says it’s needed in order to meet carbon neutral targets by midcentury.
“Transportation still accounts for nearly one-third of America’s carbon output,” Schumer points out in an op-ed letter published in the New York Times today. “Even though many American automakers are preparing for an all-electric future, electric vehicles are still too expensive for too many Americans, and our country lacks sufficient battery-charging infrastructure.”
The Senator’s plan would combine incentives for car buyers, grants for American manufacturers, and funding for boosting the number of EV charging points across the country. It’ll cost an estimated $454 billion over ten years, Schumer says.
To coax drivers out of their existing, internal combustion vehicles, “Clean Cars for America” would offer what Schumer describes as “a large discount” to trade in that old car. It’s replacement would need to be American-made and electric, though it could be new or used. “Lower-income Americans could get an even bigger discount on a new vehicle or a discount on a used electric vehicle,” it’s suggested.
While the exact figures involved haven’t been shared, Schumer says his predictions indicate the discounts alone could cut gas-powered cars on the road by 63 million come 2030. Since their electric replacements would need to be charged up somewhere, and since not everybody has a garage or driveway on which to do that, the bill also focuses on infrastructure.
States and cities would be eligible for grants to build charging stations, for example. That would include “a particular emphasis on low-income, rural and other underserved communities.”
Finally, there’ll be the EV manufacturers themselves. Schumer wants to provide grants to companies making electric vehicles and batteries, so that they can retool existing US facilities and build new ones. “My plan is estimated to create tens of thousands of new, good-paying jobs in this country and should re-establish the United States as the world leader in auto manufacturing,” Schumer argues.
For the bill to go forward, there are a few significant hurdles to get past. For a start, the Democrats would need to win control of the Senate come November 2023: that’ll be required for Schumer to introduce new climate legislation that has a chance of passing. As for external support, the Senator claims that climate groups, labor unions, and big name automakers – including Ford and GM – are already onboard. Schumer’s list includes climate groups like the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the League of Conservation Voters, together with labor unions like the United Automobile Workers and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
A lot of the numbers involved are still in flux, however, mainly because the bill is yet to be fully written. The charging infrastructure upgrade grants are expected to total $45 billion; supporting manufacturers in retooling facilities would be a further $17 billion. Exactly how much individual drivers would get as a discount on a replacement EV for their current car is unclear.
As it stands, the US federal government incentivizes electric car purchases with a tax credit. That was original set at $7,500 for eligible buyers, on top of which individual states could apply their own incentives. Some power companies also promise deals or rebates, depending on location and vehicle type.
However it can be a complex and confusing process to navigate, trying to figure out just how much an EV might cost in the end. Adding to the complexity is the fact that the $7,500 incentive is based on total electric vehicle sales for a manufacturer. Once they hit certain milestones – as Tesla, for example, did at the end of 2023 – the incentive is reduced. Half the amount is offered for six months, then it’s halved again for a further six months, before being phased out completely. Used EVs, meanwhile, aren’t currently eligible for any federal incentives.
Even with the full tax credits and any other available aid, electric vehicles are still often out of the price range of many drivers. If Schumer’s plan is to succeed, and his ambitious goals of internal combustion vehicle reductions be met, the cost of affordable EVs is going to need to come down significantly first.
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Bungie reveals Destiny: A shared-world shooter
Bungie has just revealed its new project, titled Destiny. Destiny will be a persistent, online multiplayer game that Eric Hirshberg, Activision CEO, dubs as a “shared-world shooter”. The game will be released for both the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360. Bungie has emphasized that there will be no subscription fee for the game. It will require a constant connection to the internet, as it is a major factor in the “persistent, online multiplayer” aspect of the game.
Destiny has a 10-year publishing deal with Activision. Bungie has revealed that Destiny will be released as 10 “books” over the course of 10 years. Each book will have its own beginning, middle, and end. There are currently 350 developers in Bungie working on the game. There are also teams outside of Bungie that are able to co-locate with each other, which provides Bungie with the ability to rapidly create and improve every aspect of the game. Bungie also stated that the Destiny franchise will be brought to multiple devices later on, also emphasizing that there will be a mobile app that lets players track stats, quest info, and notifications from the in-game world.
While Destiny is going to be a online multi-player game, it will be different than an MMO. Destiny’s story takes place in the Earth’s solar system after a mysterious cataclysm wipes out almost all of humanity. The survivors are relocated to the ‘safe zone’, which also acts as the beginning zone for new players. There will be 3 classes; Hunter, Titan, and Warlock. The only class with a notable difference is the Warlock, who can cast spells. Bungie says that despite there only being 3 classes, each character will be unique to the player, and will grow with the player throughout the game. In the ‘safe zone’, there will be an alien sphere called ‘The Traveler’ that supplies players with weapons, magical powers, and defensive equipment. While in the ‘safe zone’, players can meet up with their friends, and/or they can use spaceships to travel and raid new territories.
The game very much emphasizes cooperative play, but you can still play the game solo. Bungie, however, says that in order for players to realize “the vision of the game”, they have to play with other players. While in public areas, such as towns, players will be paired up with other players similar to them. This is based on the levels of the players, as well as other similar aspects. Bungie emphasizes that public areas will not be overcrowded like in MMOs. There will not be thousands of people crammed into one place, but rather a controlled amount. Also, unlike other multi-player games, Destiny will not have a lobby interface or menu for tracking quests. Everything happens in real-time, where players just wander the world, meet new people, and participate in activities that appear at whim.
Activision and Bungie both kept quiet about some important details, like when the game will be released, but they do have a very impressive goal in mind. It will be very interesting to see the two companies try to execute its 10-year plan, and whether or not they will succeed. Maybe if they do consider implementing eSports with the game, Destiny will have a good shot of lasting a long time.
Mercedes reveals Virgil Abloh’s stunning Project MAYBACH coupe concept
Mercedes-Benz has revealed the four-wheeled results of its collaboration with Virgil Abloh, the iconic fashion designer who died in late November. Project MAYBACH, unveiled according to the wishes of Abloh’s family, is a ground-up reinvention of the flagship luxury brand, combining electrification with a coupe body and off-road intent.
Built entirely from scratch, rather than borrowing an existing Maybach model, the two-door is “inspired by the great outdoors,” Mercedes said today. Its goal is “recontextualizing a traditionally urban brand within a distinctly off-road environment,” the automaker added.
The coupe is almost six meters in length, or just shy of 20 feet, making it significantly longer than even the Maybach S650 sedan. The vast hood is topped with transparent panels, as are other portions of the bodywork. They reveal solar panels, which could be used to help top up the EV’s batteries.
Inside, it’s a distinctly different environment from any other Maybach we’ve seen, though with a similarly obsessive attention to detail. Rugged seats and chunky, milled controls sit alongside high-fashion detailing such as the contrast headrest trim. Maybach-branded accessories, such as a custom hatchet, double-down on the “outdoorsy, but make it stylish” theme.
Abloh was likely best known for being artistic director at Louis Vuitton, though it was his own brand Off-White which put the creative on the map. The first African American to hold the position at Louis Vuitton, he previously interned at Fendi and worked with rap celebrities such as Kanye West. Although clothing may have been his most conspicuous creations – including collaborations with Nike and others – Abloh also worked in furniture, graphic design, and music.
Project MAYBACH is Abloh and Mercedes’ second collaboration. Announced in October 2023, the car followed a reimagined G Class SUV in 2023. “Unlike anything previously seen from Mercedes-Benz,” the automaker teased of this new vehicle, “the show car exemplifies the possibility of design that is untethered by existing blueprints, or production specifications.”
It was an opportunity for Abloh to demonstrate some of his broad skillset, not least a background in civil engineering and architecture. “The Maybach legacy celebrates exploration, pushing creativity to new places, living outside of the status quo,” he said in October. “In this next phase we’re embracing these ideals and bringing the Mercedes Maybach heritage into the future, inviting the next generation to join in revering this icon.”
Details like drivetrain and proposed electric range aren’t being discussed right now, and although there have been regular whispers about a Maybach coupe, there’s no telling whether we’re seeing the first inklings of such a car in this concept. The automaker’s first all-electric model, meanwhile, will be the Mercedes-Maybach EQS, an EV SUV previewed in concept form back in September.
All the same, it’s hard not to hope that elements of this new concept collaboration will show up in future Maybach models. “Whilst the Project MAYBACH show car was inspired by how one could explore nature within a uniquely luxury context with Maybach,” the automaker said today, “The Mercedes-Benz teams thank Virgil Abloh for the inspiration to explore every day the power of cross-industry dialogue to imagine a better, more inclusive future.” Project MAYBACH will be shown this week at the Rubell Museum in Miami, FL.
A United States Chamber of Commerce survey of over a thousand of small businesses across the United States reveals that small businesses are using social media to cultivate new business and grow their business across vast geographic areas. Facebook has emerged as the leading platform for small businesses growth. Over 60% of businesses report using Facebook to grow their businesses, increase sales, attract new customers and sell to customers they would not otherwise have been able to reach.Why is Facebook Popular with Small Businesses?
A clue as to why small businesses have gravitated to Facebook is the perceived difficulty and cost of maintaining an online presence. More than 50% of businesses surveyed cited the cost of Internet services as keeping them from building an online presence.
Difficulty and lack of familiarity with digital tools represented another major stumbling block preventing small businesses from going on online. 57% of small businesses reported that digital tools were perceived as challenging.How Small Businesses are Growing Online
Sixty percent of small businesses reported using Facebook to achieve a wide range of business goals. According to the survey:
32% reported building their business on Facebook.
42% reported hiring more employees since using Facebook
56% said using Facebook as a business tool increased their sales
52% reported that Facebook allowed them to grow their business by allowing them to reach customers outside of their local area, in other cities, states, and countries
70% of small businesses report that using Facebook helps attract new customers
39% of small businesses prefer to send potential customers to their Facebook page than to their own web page.
According to the report:
“In addition to facilitating firms’ successes, over half of small businesses on Facebook reported that the platform as helped them overcome challenges in increasing revenue.”Small Businesses Lack Skilled Digital Workers
When you think of small businesses online, one usually thinks of it in terms of a website. Facebook has dramatically changed how consumers interact with small businesses and make purchasing decisions. Facebook has emerged as a dynamic source of financial growth for small businesses. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Report titled, Examining the Impact of Technology On Small Business is available here.
Images by Shutterstock, modified by Author
Leaked Letter from Sony Reveals More Details About PlayStation Network Hack
We have had a lot of news over the past 23 days about the hack and closure of Sony’s PlayStation Network, but there are still a lot of questions over what exactly happened. Sony said in its letter to Congress that the attack was a “very carefully planned, very professional, highly sophisticated criminal cyber attack”. And it certainly has set Sony back on its heels, with the network still down, and Sony still struggling to clean up the mess the hack has caused, and losing the trust of its users. Now, a letter sent from Sony to publishers of the PlayStation Network and Qriocity yesterday has been leaked, and we have a few more details about what happened.
Evidence indicates that the letter was recieved yesterday, and it does not say when services will be resumed, but it does explain how the hack was discovered. First, Sony says that it will only restore service “when we can ensure that the network can operate safely and securely”. Then, under the heading “What Happened”, Sony reveals that on Tuesday, April 19th, four PlayStation Network servers unexpectedly rebooted themselves, and that there was “unplanned and unusual activity” on the network.
Sony had an internal team investigate the four suspect servers, and the team discovered indications that an intruder had gotten access to the PlayStation Network system. Then, six more servers were identified as being compromised. That is when Sony shut down the network to prevent additional damage. The intruders used “sophisticated and aggressive techniques to obtain unauthorized access, hide their presence from system administrators and escalate privileges inside the servers.” They deleted log files to hide the extent of what they had done within the network.
On May 1st, with the information from the forensic teams investigating the matter, engineers at Sony Online Entertainment found out that data had also been stolen from their servers, so on they also shut down operations and announced the discovery on May 2nd.
Sony then goes on to state again that they do not have evidence that credit card information has been stolen, and that major credit card providers have not seen an increase in fraudulent activity. This is despite the fact that security experts have warned that credit card data from PSN members was found for sale online. Sony again details the steps they have taken to compensate members, offering data theft protection.
They also detail the steps they are taking to repair the network and ensure its security, and state that they are working with the FBI to discover who is behind the attack. They also let their partners know that they cannot yet say when the network will be back online again.
As you know, certain PlayStation Network, Qriocity and Sony Online Entertainment service user account information was compromised in criminal attacks against our networks. I want to assure you, as a PlayStation partner, that it is Sony’s top priority to restore our network operations and see that business is returned to usual as soon as possible. We are working around the clock to restore service, but will do so only when we can ensure that the network can operate safely and securely. In the meantime, we greatly appreciate your patience, understanding and goodwill.
• On Tuesday, April 19, 2011, Sony discovered that several PlayStation Network servers unexpectedly rebooted themselves and that unplanned and unusual activity was taking place on the network. This activity triggered an immediate response.
• Sony mobilized a larger internal team to assist the investigation of the four suspect servers. That team discovered the first credible indications that an intruder had been in the PlayStation Network system, and six more servers were identified as possibly being compromised. Sony immediately decided to shut down all of the PlayStation Network services in order to prevent any additional damage.
• The scope and complexity of the investigation grew substantially as additional evidence about the attack developed.
• The forensic teams were able to confirm that intruders had used very sophisticated and aggressive techniques to obtain unauthorized access, hide their presence from system administrators and escalate privileges inside the servers. Among other things, the intruders deleted log files in order to hide the extent of their work and activity within the network.
• On Sunday May 1, using information uncovered by the forensic teams, engineers at Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) discovered that data had also been taken from their servers. They, too, shut down operations and on Monday, May 2, announced the discovery.
What Data Are Affected?
As you may know, personal data was stolen from approximately 77 million PlayStation network and Qriocity service accounts.
As of this writing, there remains no evidence that the credit card information was stolen and the major credit card companies are still reporting that they have not seen an increase in fraudulent transactions due to this event.
What Steps Are Being Taken?
We have taken aggressive action to give consumers peace of mind, protect them against the abuse of their data, and enhance our security systems moving forward.
In addition, Sony is taking a series of steps to enhance security of our network infrastructure. They include but are not limited to:
• adding additional automated software monitoring and configuration management to help defend against new attacks;
• enhanced levels of data protection and encryption, as well as additional penetration and vulnerability testing;
• enhanced capabilities to detect software intrusions within the network, unauthorized access and unusual activity patterns;
• implementation of additional firewalls;
• expediting a planned move of the system to a new data center in a different location with enhanced security; and
• appointment of a new Chief Information Security Officer.
We of course deeply regret that this incident has occurred. We are working closely with the FBI to identify and apprehend the culprits who committed this crime against our consumers, our partners and our company. I know you can appreciate how widespread the problem of cybercrime is in society today. Although no company is immune, we are confident our consumer data will be protected by some of the best security measures available today.
As a valued partner we aim to keep the lines of communication open so that you are aware of our progress. Our focus has been to confirm the security of the networks, protect customer data and get the services back on line as quickly as possible. We will do our best to respond to all of your inquiries and we will do everything we possibly can to support you.
We are doing everything we can to bring these services back online as soon as possible. We will update you with more information as soon as we can, but please call your account executive if you have further questions. We thank you for your patience and look forward to moving ahead together in the months and years to come.
Very truly yours,
SVP, Publisher Relations
[via Industry Gamers]
Intel reveals the Lakefield chips for foldables that prove it can still innovate
Intel’s new hybrid processors, Intel Lakefield, have launched today, promising smaller and more flexible chips for ultraportables, folding form-factors, and more. Announced first at CES 2023 back in January, Lakefield combines several of the ideas Intel has been working on over the past few years: ultra-low-power CPUs, 3D packaging, and always-on connectivity.
So, they’re the first chips with what Intel is calling its new Hybrid Technology, and built using Foveros 3D stacking. A typical laptop chipset is laid out horizontally, with the various IPs spread out flat.
Foveros, though, stacks different technology IP blocks, building them into a “layer cake” with 12 x 12 x 1 millimeter dimensions. Those different layers can be mixed and matched, Intel says, depending on what the chip is needed for: in the case of Lakefield, that means flexible performance for non-traditional hardware designs.
So, Lakefield actually combines different types of core, much as we’ve seen Arm-based chipset designs from Qualcomm, Samsung, Apple and others do for smartphones and tablets. On the one hand, there’s a 10nm Sunny Cove core for maximum performance and any applications running in the foreground. It’s paired, though, with four Tremont cores, which are far more power-efficient.
Those cores handle background tasks, including services which need to be running but don’t require the full potency of the Sunny Cove core. Either way, both high-performance and super-frugal cores are compatible with 32- and 64-bit Windows applications. Real-time communication between the CPU and the OS scheduler means that the best core is picked for the right app.
Lakefield chips may be compact and low-power, but they’re still surprisingly capable. There’s support for up to four 4K external displays, for example, while video clips convert up to 54-percent faster versus the Core i5-8200Y.
While they may be rated at 7W TDP, the reality is that Intel has designed Lakefield to run much more frugally when the situation warrants it. Indeed, they can run as low as 2.5mW of standby SoC power, as much as 91-percent lower than Y-series processors.
For manufacturers, the upshot is more flexibility in their device designs. Lakefield has native dual internal display pipes, for example, which targets foldable and dual-display PCs. That’s the reason we’ve seen Lenovo use it in the ThinkPad X1 Fold, and why Microsoft will use it for the Surface Neo.
Not all designs will be so extreme, of course. Samsung’s Galaxy Book S, for example, looks more like a regular ultraportable notebook, but taps Lakefield’s combination of frugality and compact size to offer an alternative to the existing Arm-based version.
Lakefield’s debut comes at an interesting – and pivotal – time for Intel. The chip-maker has faced criticism in recent years for the relatively slow pace of its nanometer production transition, mixed with speculation that some of its long-standing device partners may be losing confidence in the Core strategy. Apple, for instance, is expected to announce its transition to self-designed Arm-based chipsets for Mac at WWDC 2023 later this month. While the Cupertino firm may not be Intel’s biggest customer, it’s nonetheless a feather in the chip-maker’s hat as it sees increased competition in laptop compute from rivals more commonly found powering phones and tablets.
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